Fri, Feb 25, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Chinese no longer need to join tours to visit here


Chinese tourists are no longer required to join tours in order to visit, the Bureau of Immigration said yesterday.

As of Wednesday, amendments to the Regulations Governing the People of the Mainland Area Engaging In Sightseeing Activities In Taiwan (大陸地區人民來臺從觀光活動許可辦法), a by-law of the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (臺灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例), took effect, stipulating that a Chinese person may travel individually, as long as he or she is able to obtain a Taiwan Area Travel Permit.

"Before the amendments, Chinese tourists had to be in a tour group made up of at least seven people in order to visit," Chen Cheng-rui (陳政叡), a bureau official, said yesterday.

Last October, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications loosened its regulations covering Chinese tourists in a bid to boost cross-strait tourism.

The Ministry of the Interior followed suit by amending its related regulations.

In order to streamline the processing of Chinese tourists' travel documents, all paperwork will be handled by the Travel Agent Association of ROC Taiwan, including the receiving and forwarding of documents, visa distribution and security deposits. Previously such documentation was processed by whichever tour agency a Chinese visitor had signed up with.

Local tour agencies wanting to arrange tours for Chinese visitors must put down a NT$1 million (US$32,000) security deposit with the association.

Chinese joining group tours must abide by strict measures aimed at stopping them from leaving their group without the government's approval.

If a Chinese citizen needs to leave his or her tour group because of an emergency or other appropriate reason -- subject to approval by the Taiwan Tourism Bureau -- he or she must inform their tour leader of the name and address of the person or entity being visited and the time the person will be rejoining the tour group. The tour leader must relay the information to the tourism bureau. Visitors who violate the rules are subject to deportation.

The amendments also call for more stringent rules on tour leaders and travel agencies providing services to Chinese tourists. For example, a tour group's landing information must be sent to the tourism bureau 39 hours prior to the group's arrival. Tour leaders are also required to report any illegal activities by tour members to the authorities immediately.

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