Houston Community News >> Hong Kong Tourists Eager for Visa-Free Entry

4/15/2008 (Taipei Times)-- Hong Kong’s tourism sector yesterday welcomed a proposal to grant Hong Kong visitors to Taiwan visa-free privileges and predicted that such a move would boost arrivals of tourists from the former British colony.

President-elect Ma Ying-jeou, who will take office on May 20, said at a news conference with Hong Kong reporters on Monday that his administration would consider offering the special treatment to Hong Kong tourists as part of a package of measures to bolster bilateral relations between Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Wang Chun-bao, director of the non-profit Taiwan Visitors Association in Hong Kong, told the Central News Agency that the measure, if implemented, would bolster Taiwan-Hong Kong exchanges and help lure Hong Kong tourists to Taiwan.

“The number of Hong Kong visitors to Taiwan could grow by 10 percent or more after the implementation of the measure,” Wang said.

A ranking Hong Kong Tourism Board official surnamed Liu said the number of Hong Kong tourists to Taiwan would increase if Hong Kongers were given visa-free privileges.

He said, however, that passenger volume between the two sides would not be markedly affected in the short term.

Hong Kong is also a major transshipment hub for China-bound Taiwanese passengers.

A general manager at a Hong Kong travel agency said the visa-free status would save Hong Kong visitors to Taiwan the HK$100 (US$13) visa fee.

He also said the move would lead to a 10 percent rise in the number of Hong Kong tourists visiting Taiwan.

Statistics compiled by Taiwan’s Tourism Bureau showed there were 3.72 million foreign visitor arrivals in Taiwan last year.

Of that total, 13.2 percent, or 491,437 visitors, came from Hong Kong and Macau — 13.79 percent more than in 2006.

(Contributed by AP)