Mon, Oct 16, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Ministry says direct Chinese tourists to be permitted soon

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwan's opening to Chinese tourists is expected to happen soon, pending cross-strait negotiations on several outstanding points, the Minister of Trans-portation and Communications Tsai Duei (蔡堆) said yesterday.

Tsai said in an interview with the Central News Agency that both Taiwan and China have established organizations to handle cross-strait tourism issues.

Both sides have guidelines that govern the execution of the new policy, though several controversial issues still must be resolved through negotiations.

The process will not take a long time, he said, adding that good news may come as early as next month.

Tsai left the country yesterday to participate in the fourth APEC Tourism Ministerial Meeting, which is scheduled to be held in Hoi An, Vietnam, this week.

While the meeting will give Tsai the opportunity to exchange thoughts and observations with tourism ministers around the world, media reports have indicated that Tsai will likely meet with Shao Xiwei (邵琪偉), chairman of China's National Tourism Administration, to talk over the details of allowing Chinese tourists to directly enter Taiwan.

Currently, Chinese tourists can only visit the nation by transiting in a third country.

However, Tsai did not confirm whether the meeting with Shao is definite.

According to Chiu Chang-kuang (邱長光), secretary general of the tourism bureau, Tsai will be holding bilateral meetings with tourism ministers in other countries. He said that so far Taiwan's representative is only tentatively scheduled to meet with representatives from Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan and Australia. A meeting with Shao is not firmly on the agenda at this point, he said.

"APEC is a venue where different countries talk about the possibility of international cooperation," he said, "The atmosphere is rather informal and casual, and there are few difficult negotiations either."

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