Sat, Aug 26, 2006 - Page 1 News List

New association to negotiate over Chinese tourists

COUNTERPART The MAC said the association will not replace the Straits Exchange Foundation but is an answer to Beijing setting up a similar body

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The effort to open Taiwan to Chinese tourists lurched forward yesterday, as the government announced it was establishing an association to negotiate with China on the issue.

The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) yesterday announced that it will establish the "Taiwan Strait Tourism and Travel Association" on Sunday to negotiate with China over cross-strait tourism issues.

MAC Chairman Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), Vice Minister of Transportation and Communications Oliver Yu (游芳來) and Hsu Wen-sheng (許文聖), chief of the Tourism Bureau (觀光局) yesterday morning announced the commissioning of the new association to negotiate with China's Cross-Strait Tourism Association, which was established on Nov. 5 last year by China.

job done

Wu said that on July 28 last year, the government had designated Taiwan's Travel Agent Association (全聯會) to serve as the liaison with China's Cross-Strait Tourism Association, but now that the Taiwan Strait Tourism and Travel Association was being established, the Travel Agent Association had completed its task.

Wu said that China's Cross-Strait Tourism Association, which is chaired by China's National Tourism Administration Director Shao Qiwei (邵琪偉), already held a board meeting on Aug. 17. Taiwan therefore needed to quickly establish a counterpart to deal with China.

"Based on the fact that China has made substantial progress on the tourism issue, the establishment of this new association is a functional arrangement, as we think the timing is right," Wu said.

"But the association is not meant to replace the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF)," he said.

no opening date

Hsu, who will be the president of the Taiwan Strait Tourism and Travel Association, said that a trustee meeting will be held on Sunday afternoon and the association will set up its rules.

Hsu said that the association will have nine to 11 trustees, who will be tourism professionals selected from the public and private sectors.

"None of the MAC or SEF members will be trustees," Hsu said.

When asked about a definite date for opening up Taiwan to Chinese tourists, Wu said that he could not give one, saying the government had no preset stance on the issue.

"When we reach a consensus through negotiation is when we open up [to the tourists]," Wu said.

Meanwhile, Wu also said that the Central Bank of China is now evaluating the possibility of Chinese tourists being allowed to exchange yuan in the country when Chinese tourists are permitted to visit the country.

"Taiwan is working on how to communicate with Chinese banks on the issue, and we will work out a complete set of security details for currency exchanges that are in concert with the acceptance of Chinese tourists," Wu said.

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