Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) yesterday said Taiwan will probably be included in the US’ visa waiver program in October.
Wu made the remarks at the opening ceremony of the Taipei Tourism Exposition.
“A total of 127 countries have lifted their visa requirement for Taiwan,” Wu said. “Let me tell you this, the US should be able to start including us in its visa waiver program around October. As tourists, we will be more respected and more welcome than before when we travel.”
Taiwan aims to attract 10 million international tourists annually by 2016, he said, adding that the nation plans to gradually increase the number of arrivals to reach that goal.
Wu attributed the growth in international tourists to improved cross-strait relations as well as to warmer relations between Taiwan and other Asian countries. From January to last month, the number of foreign tourists increased by 20 percent compared with the same time last year, he said. Tourists from Japan grew by 23 percent and those from China grew by 48 percent, he said.
Commenting on Wu’s remarks, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) said it appeared Wu has failed to deliver his promise of being a “silent vice president” after he was picked as President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) running mate.
“[The US visa waiver program] would be a major announcement. Unless Ma has given Wu the green light, I think it should have been either Ma or the premier making the announcement,” Lee said.
Wu’s unilateral announcement did not match traditional diplomatic practice, he added, since major announcements are usually made by both sides simultaneously.
Additional reporting by Chris Wang