Mon, Feb 20, 2012 - Page 2 News List

Visa-free treatment spurring Taiwanese to travel to Europe

Staff Writer, with CNA

The number of Taiwanese travelers to Europe has grown by nearly 40 percent since the EU visa waiver for Taiwan took effect on Jan. 11 last year, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official said.

A total of 239,062 Taiwanese flew from Taiwan to the Schengen area last year, up 38.66 percent from the previous year, said James Lee (李光章), director--general of the ministry’s Department of European Affairs, citing Tourism Bureau statistics.

The figures indicate that the 90-day visa-free entry privilege has increased the willingness of Taiwanese to travel abroad, Lee said. The Tourism Bureau figure counts only first-stop arrivals, and if Taiwanese travelers who fly to Europe from other countries are taken into account, the rate of growth could be much higher, Lee said.

Jost Feer, head of the Taiwan office of the Trade Office of Swiss Industries, also associated the surge of Taiwanese visitors to his country with the EU visa-waiver program.

The number of Taiwanese who traveled to Switzerland grew 39 percent in the first nine months of last year compared with the same period in 2010, he said. Lee said the ministry had received many thank-you letters over the past year.

Some had been submitted by Taiwanese businesspeople operating in China, who had to fly back to Taiwan to apply for a Schengen visa if they planned to travel to Europe, he said.

Taiwan’s pursuit of visa-free treatment has also had a positive impact on outbound travel to Canada, which granted Taiwanese visa-free entry at the end of 2010.

More than 67,000 Taiwanese flew to Canada last year, up 7.51 percent from the previous year, even as the number of Taiwanese travelers to North America fell 5.26 percent last year to 473,259, the official said.

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