The government is contemplating setting up direct charter flights with Mongolia to promote tourism and trade relations, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) official said yesterday.
“Both sides are keen to develop closer exchanges and boost tourism. We are currently in talks on possible charter flights, which would benefit tourists from both sides if the deal goes through,” said Lin Jinn-jong (林進忠), the director-general of the ministry’s Department of West Asian Affairs.
The direct charters would lower airfares from the current US$1,000 to about US$500, Lin said.
At present, visitors must enter Mongolia via third countries, such as South Korea and China.
About 2,000 Taiwanese visit Mongolia annually, Lin said. Charter flights would not only benefit tourists but also 400 Mongolian students in Taiwan.
Lin said that although bilateral trade is small, the US$8.02 million in trade in the first half of the year represented a 207 percent increase compared with the same period last year.
Taiwan is Mongolia’s 15th largest trade partner.
Taiwanese companies invested US$19.65 million there last year.
Taiwan does not have official diplomatic ties with Mongolia, which declared independence from the Qing empire in 1911, the year that the Qing Dynasty fell.
However, Mongolia is intent on improving its economy through tourism and attracting investment from abroad, including Taiwan, Lin said.
That was why the charter flight issue was raised during the Ninth Taiwan-Mongolia Joint Economic Meeting, which was held in the Mongolian capital of Ulan Bator on Sept. 9, he said.
More than 100 participants from the Chinese International Economic Cooperation Association and its counterpart, the Mongolian Chamber of Commerce and Industry attended the meeting.