President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday promised to revive the nation’s tourism industry and local economy with a NT$30 billion (US$890 million) tourism industry development fund.
The government is also seeking visa-free travel to the US and European countries, the president said.
The number of visitors to Taiwan and Japan increased after the two nations granted 90-day visa-free entry to each other’s citizens. The government will continue negotiating with the US and the EU in a bid to secure visa-free travel programs, Ma said.
Statistics from the Tourism Bureau showed that the number of tourists visiting Taiwan increased by 3.5 percent last year.
The growth is encouraging given the fact that departures dropped by 5.5 percent during the year, Ma said.
The number of tourists visiting Taiwan each year was still much less when compared with other countries in Asia such as Hong Kong, South Korea and Singapore.
“Following the implementation of cross-strait direct links, Taiwan is no longer subject to any restrictions in terms of its transport and connection to the outside world. Taiwan should use its geographical advantage to develop the tourism industry,” Ma said yesterday at the “Tour Taiwan Year 2009” festivities held at the Grand Hotel.
Accompanied by Minister of Transportation and Communications Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) and representatives from the tourism industry, Ma promised to carry out his campaign promise of establishing a NT$30 billion fund to help develop the tourism industry and also to focus the government’s efforts on integrating the tourism industry with healthcare and cultural industries to create even more business opportunities.
In addition to attracting Chinese visitors, the government and private sectors should also provide more measures to attract visitors from other countries, Ma said.
The Cabinet has listed NT$1 billion this year for tourism industry developmentt, Ma said.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CNA