Wu targets tourist ceiling

By Crystal Hsu  /  Staff Reporter

Fri, Dec 09, 2011 - Page 12

Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) yesterday pledged to raise the daily ceiling on Chinese tourists from 4,000 to 5,000 and relax visa requirements for Chinese business travelers to boost cross-strait tourism and Taiwan’s economy.

Wu, also the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) vice-presidential candidate, made the promise after meeting representatives from small and medium-sized firms to line up support.

“The government is well aware of the global economic slowdown and is taking steps to minimize its impact,” Wu said. “We believe there is still room to strengthen tourism, among other areas of improvement.”

The KMT administration plans to elevate the daily ceiling on Chinese tourists allowed to enter Taiwan to 5,000 from the current 4,000, Wu said.

In addition, Wu said he would ask immigration authorities to review the possibility of granting Chinese business travelers -multiple-entry visas as trade ties between Taiwan and China deepen.

The convenience will attract more visitors and speed up exchanges, he said.

Tourist visits to Taiwan could set a new record of 6 million this year after reaching 5.42 million in the first 11 months, Wu said.

Many Chinese would like to observe Taiwan’s elections first-hand because the democratic process through which government leaders are chosen is not allowed in China, Wu said.

“It would be a different, but positive way to experience Taiwan,” the premier said.

Meanwhile, the US might grant Taiwanese tourists visa-free status next year, as 124 other nations have done, if Taiwan meets its requirements, Wu said.

That number of countries giving Taiwan visa-free status would have been unimaginable under the Democratic Progressive Party, when the number of countries giving Taiwan visa-free status stayed unchanged for eight years at 54, Wu said.

The business community has voiced its wish that Taiwan preserve friendly ties with China no matter which party wins the -presidential election on Jan. 14.

In other news, Godwin Chang (張建西), head of Societe Generale’s Taipei Branch, said chances were high that the French bank would withdraw from Taiwan if the next administration moved drastically from the cross-strait “status quo.”

“Cross-strait stability ranks high in our assessment of country and market risks,” Chang said at a gathering of the European Chamber of Commerce Taipei (ECCT).

Mike Hsieh (謝才敏), executive director of Taikoo Motors Ltd (太古汽車), the exclusive distributor of Volkswagen cars in Taiwan, said he wanted to see policy continuity after the presidential election.

“Consumer sentiment has tremendous bearing on sales of durable goods, including cars,” Hsieh said. “Policy discontinuity will weaken consumer confidence and hurt car sales.”

Hans Fortuin, the representative of the Netherlands Trade and Investment Office, said the elections would not affect Dutch investments because the contending parties share a lot of common ground in terms of economic policy.