Medical visa considered
Chinese nationals may soon be allowed to visit the country exclusively for medical services rather than under a tourist itinerary, the National Immigration Agency (NIA) said yesterday. Under the new regulation, Chinese nationals would be able to cite health checkups and medical cosmetology services as the purpose of travel when applying for an entry permit for Taiwan. Existing regulations only allow Chinese visitors to receive such services after they enter the country, either with tour groups or under the free independent traveler program, according to the agency. NIA -Director-General Hsieh Li-kung (謝立功) said the new policy would bring more people to Taiwan for medical services — which he called part of Taiwan’s soft power — and would boost the business of the local medical sector.
Taekwondo star not acting
Taekwondo star Yang Shu-chun (楊淑君) will not try her hand at acting in South Korea because she is training hard for next year’s Olympic Games in London, the athlete’s manager, Yang Shu-chuan (楊淑娟), said yesterday. The manager was responding to a report in the Chinese-language China Times yesterday that said the athlete had been approached by a South Korean producer and asked to appear in a soap opera with members of South Korean boy band Dong Bang Shin Ki. The report said the athlete’s good looks had been noticed in South Korea after she was disqualified in a controversial ruling in the taekwondo competition at last year’s Asian Games in Guangzhou, China. According to Yang Shu-chuan, the taekwondo star had been approached by a South Korean agency to appear in a production, but the offer was rejected because she currently had no intention or time to star in any films.
Bangkok advisory still red
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday said the travel warning for flood-stricken Bangkok and 28 surrounding regions remained red because of the ongoing flood crisis. A red travel warning is the highest in the ministry’s four-color travel advisory system. Concerned about outbreaks of disease, polluted water supplies and the possible breakdown of barriers protecting Bangkok, the ministry advised Taiwanese not to travel to the city or surrounding areas. According to the ministry, downtown Bangkok escaped serious damage when the flood peaked on Oct. 29 and during a spring high tide on Monday. However, seven districts in northern and western Bangkok suffered from serious flooding, the ministry said. In addition, water supplies polluted by floodwater are threatening the public’s health and water rationing has been implemented in several provinces, the ministry added.
Tourism sector recovering
About 460,000 foreign tourists visited Taiwan in September, setting a record high for that month, the Tourism Bureau said. The figure, which was up 9.9 percent from a year earlier, is a sign that the local tourism sector is recovering after a series of incidents earlier this year led to unfavorable market conditions, the bureau said. The incidents included a train derailment on the -Alishan forest railway in April that killed six Chinese tourists and a food scare after plasticizers were detected in some consumables in May. The bureau said Japanese visitors topped the visitor list with 122,908 tourists, a 33.9 percent increase over the same period last year and a single-month all-time high.