International cruise ships could soon be allowed to travel directly between Taiwan and China without having to go through a third destination, the Ministry of the Transportation and Communications (MOTC) said yesterday.
Deputy Minister of Transportation and Communications Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) said in a press briefing that he had met officials involved in cross-strait negotiations during an unofficial occasion and that they had expressed a willingness to explore that option.
He said both sides could begin negotiating on the issue at a meeting of transportation officials.
At present, international cruise ships can travel directly across the Taiwan Strait only after obtaining special permission, such as when Amway China employees returned to China last year.
Also under current regulations, only cargo ships registered in Taiwan, China and Hong Kong can operate on the cross-strait route.
Asked about the reasons for the change, Yeh said issues related to international cruise ships simply were not a priority in cross-strait negotiations.
Yeh said both sides appeared to have reached a consensus on jointly attracting international visitors.
“This [policy] will give international cruise line operators some flexibility when they launch a new service,” Yeh said.
Meanwhile, Yeh said Taiwan should no longer delay setting up a state-run port company to oversee operation of the nation’s seaports by 2012.
To reinforce Kaohsiung’s function as a transshipment port, Yeh said the country should increase the number of cross-strait navigation routes.