Wed, Nov 07, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Trips to US increase on back of visa waiver program, travel agency says

Staff writer, with CNA

Lion Travel Service Co, one of the nation’s leading travel agencies, said Taiwan’s inclusion in the US Visa-Waiver Program (VWP) has boosted its sales this month and next month by two to three times compared with a year earlier.

“When Taiwan’s inclusion in the VWP was announced, we estimated a 50 percent growth for November and December, but the number has already increased by two to three times,” agency spokesman Andy Yu (游國珍) said.

“Right now, demand is outstripping supply,” he said, adding that popular tours include watching the New Year fireworks at Disney California Adventure Park and in New York City’s Times Square.

Many travelers have also booked tours to the US during the Chinese New Year vacation in February, with at least twice as many Taiwanese planning on traveling compared with the year-earlier level, Yu said.

As for whether the disasters wrought by Hurricane Sandy have affected bookings for New York City trips, Yu said he was not aware of any cancellations for year-end trips to the city.

Taiwan’s participation in the visa program took effect on Nov. 1, making it the 37th country to obtain visa-free treatment from the US.

Lee Chun-yu (李春遇), a China Airlines manager at Los Angeles International Airport, predicted that the number of travelers from Taiwan to the US will rise by 20 to 30 percent.

Raymond Chang (張健仁), chairman of the Discover America Committee in Taiwan, a member of the Travel Industry Association of America, also said last week that tourism to the US could see an increase of over 30 percent during the first year of Taiwan’s inclusion in the VWP.

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