Russian tour group members say visa waiver is big help

Staff writer, with CNA

Sun, Jan 13, 2019 - Page 2

After 11 days of exploration, travelers on a Russian tour group said that Taiwan is worth visiting.

The government has sought to bolster ties with Russia and on Sept. 6 last year introduced a 14-day visa waiver program for Russian nationals that runs until at least July 31.

Four groups of Russian tourists arrived in September and October last year, and the latest group arrived on Dec. 31 for an 11-day tour that included the New Year’s Day fireworks at Taipei 101.

When asked what about Taiwan appeals most to Russians, Valentina Ignatenko said she immediately thought of all the fruit available in Taiwan, especially dragon fruit and sugar apples.

Russia is highly dependent on imported fruit and there is not such a wide selection to choose from, Ignatenko said.

Russians enjoy eating, so Taiwanese snacks and dishes were a big hit, she said.

Galina Vovna said it was her first time in Taiwan and she had been amazed by the gorgeous mountains and sea views.

Growing up in Vladivostok, a port city in eastern Russia, Vovna said she was particularly impressed with Kaohsiung, as she likes places with a sea view.

Maria, from Vladivostok, said that Taiwan’s dazzling natural scenery is very different from her hometown, which makes it an attractive destination for younger people.

Before the introduction of the 14-day visa waiver, 600 to 900 Russian nationals visited Taiwan every month, the Tourism Bureau said.

Vovna said it used to be extremely inconvenient to get the required documents to visit Taiwan, as Vladivostok is more than 9,000km from Moscow.

That made it difficult for people to visit Taiwan, but with the launch of the visa waiver program, the number would definitely increase, she said.