Taiwan mulls plans to attract global tourists amid China travel ban

Government planning incentives to attract Southeast Asian tourists

Lin Chia-lung, minister of Transportation and Communications (Source: CNA/ File photo)

Lin Chia-lung, minister of Transportation and Communications (Source: CNA/ File photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) —Transportation Minister Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said on Monday (August 5) that the government is mulling plans to attract more international travelers as a means of reducing the impact of China’s recently introduced travel ban on individual tourism to Taiwan.

The Cabinet is discussing ways to provide incentives for travelers worldwide to visit Taiwan, said Lin, the minister responsible for the country’s transportation and communications affairs. Expanding visa exemption, providing more generous visa treatment, and introducing expedited immigration clearance are among the options the government is taking into consideration, he added.

According to Lin, these measures will mainly target citizens from New Southbound Policy partner countries. These include Southeast Asian nations such as Singapore, Vietnam, and Indonesia.

These plans, along with an allocation of NT$3.6 billion (US$114 million) announced last week to boost domestic tourism, will be the government’s answer to China’s ban on solo travelers visiting Taiwan that went into effect Aug. 1. In addition to individual travel, some reports have quoted representatives from travel agencies as saying that group tours are also likely to be limited, despite a lack of official confirmation from both the Taiwanese and Chinese governments.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government has criticized Beijing for attempting to influence Taiwan’s presidential election next January by hurting the island nation’s tourism. Similar measures have been taken by the Chinese authorities in the past when major elections were due in Taiwan. The Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO), a Chinese government body designated to implement Beijing’s policy toward Taiwan, has attributed the prohibition to the DPP’s embrace of a pro-independence agenda and provocation against China.

Lin described Beijing’s grip on travelers coming to Taiwan as “kidnapping its people” in order to achieve its goal of putting pressure on Taiwan. Taiwan’s tourism is targeting travelers from around the world, and the government intends to promote the development of a more diverse and healthy tourism industry, said Lin. “We welcome Chinese tourists, but we will not be controlled by them.”