Kinmen County Commissioner Li Wo-shi (李沃士) has proposed allowing the archipelago to be developed into “duty-free islands” to boost tourism and the local economy.
Li, a Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) member, elaborated on his proposal at a Kinmen economic forum that was held on the county’s main island on Monday.
Tourism is the backbone of Kinmen’s development, Li said.
By integrating travel and shopping, the county, previously a heavily militarized outpost, could enjoy an economic boost, he said.
China’s Xiamen, which is close to Kinmen, saw 41.24 million foreign and domestic travelers last year, Li said.
Given this potentially huge market, the county should think hard about how to attract travelers, who would only have to take a 30-minute ferry ride from Xiamen to reach Kinmen, he said.
Li said he has asked the central government to grant Chinese tourists multiple-entry visas for Kinmen and has also asked Beijing to ease the current Kinmen one-day tour restrictions to two or three days.
Furthermore, duty-free shopping would also tempt people from Taiwan proper to make the short trip to the archipelago.
The Kinmen economic forum was organized by the Taiwan Competitiveness Forum, a Taipei-based think tank, which invited officials, academics and business representatives from Taiwan, Hong Kong and China to discuss issues concerning the strategic value, economy and industry of Kinmen, as well as a proposal to establish a “living circle” covering Kinmen and Xiamen to make more effective use of tourism resources.