Tue, May 29, 2012 - Page 2 News List

Taiwanese may delay travel to US until visa-waiver

LAND OF THE FREE:The expected waiver could lift numbers of Taiwanese visitors to the US, which have lagged since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks

Staff writer, with CNA

Taiwanese who plan to visit the US during the summer might delay their travel to take advantage of visa-waiver privileges, which are expected in October, a tour operator said yesterday.

Anthony Liao (廖文澄), general manager of Taiwan-based Phoenix Tours, said that after Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) revealed a probable timetable for the visa-free program, Republic of China (ROC) nationals would likely delay their travel plans to save on visa fees.

On Friday, Wu said Taiwan was likely to be included in the US visa-waiver program in October.

US visa-waiver status should help boost business for local travel agencies in the final quarter of this year and the whole of next year, Liao said.

The number of Taiwanese traveling to the US has been on the decline over the past decade because of the tighter security measures imposed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and because of the increased visa fee, he said.

Growth in the number of ROC passport holders traveling to the US is estimated at 50 percent after visa-waiver privileges take effect, he said.

Based on previous experience, the number of Taiwanese traveling to countries that gave ROC nationals visa-free treatment grew by at least 30 percent after the visa-free status was granted.

Share prices of Phoenix Tours and Star Travel — the only two listed and over-the-counter companies on the Taiwan Stock Exchange — increased by 3.04 percent and 2.32 percent respectively yesterday.

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