Sat, Jul 30, 2005 - Page 2 News List

MAC readies for next phase of tourism talks

EXCHANGE The council was low-key on the progress of negotiations on Chinese tourists, while the premier said he hoped cross-strait tourism would begin soon

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER WITH CNA

The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) announced yesterday that it will hold a background briefing tomorrow afternoon, signaling that the opening up of Taiwan to Chinese tourists has made some progress.

The official briefing will be presided over by Fu Don-cheng (傅棟成), director of the MAC's economic affairs department.

Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) also expressed the government's position on the issue yesterday, saying that "we hope Chinese tourists can come to Taiwan as soon as possible ... We will provide a safe and comfortable environment for them."

After announcing Thursday it officially commissioned the Travel Agent Association of Republic of China, Taiwan to negotiate with Chinese tourism officials, the MAC remained low-key about the progress of the negotiations yesterday.

MAC vice chairman You Ying-lung (游盈隆) said at the council's weekly press conference that "only if the Chinese government responds positively to the government offer can Taiwan move to the next step of negotiations."

Unlike the council, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC), has been optimistic about the cross-strait negotiation on this issue of Chinese tourists.

According to Chinese-language newspapers yesterday, MOTC Minister Lin Ling-san (林陵三) said that negotiations on the particulars of Chinese tourism will be dealt with soon.

"The method by which direct lunar New Year charter flights were negotiated is a reference for the tourist negotiations," Chinese-language newspapers quoted Lin as saying. Hsu Wen-sheng (許文聖), director-general of the MOTC's Tourism Bureau, will also attend the negotiations as an adviser of the officially authorized agency, it was also reported yesterday.

You said that the government would stick to the policy of allowing up to 1,000 Chinese tourists per day to travel to Taiwan for a maximum of 10 days, also requiring that group tours entering the country must leave as a group.

In addition, Roget Hsu (許高慶), the secretary-general of the Travel Agent Association of the Republic of China, Taiwan said that other items on the agenda include whether to impose a security deposit on cross-strait travel agencies.

"The deposit would help lessen the possibility of illegal Chinese immigrants coming in under the guise of tourism," Hsu said.

In related news, China Sunrise Travel Service's general manager Feng Cho-chih (馮卓志) told the Central News Agency the travel agency has been in contact with the Chinese government, and that a government-authorized agency was an appropriate body with which to negotiate.

"Travel Agent Association of Republic of China, Taiwan is a very good agency, has frequent exchanges with us," Feng said.

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