Taipei, Dec. 4 (CNA) Hawaiian Airlines said Monday it will launch direct flights between Taipei and Honolulu in July 2013 to tap Taiwan's tourism market in light of the United States' extending its visa waiver program to cover Taiwanese nationals.
"We have long known that there is demand for a Hawaii vacation in Taiwan, but visits have been impeded by the cost, complexity and time it has taken its citizens to apply for a U.S. visitor visa," said Mark Dunkerley, the airline's president and CEO.
Following Taiwan's effective admission to the program on Nov. 1, Taiwanese citizens are free from the cumbersome process of obtaining a U.S. visa at a cost of NT$4,800 (US$163.9) per application.
The airline's new service, which will operate three times a week, will use a 294-seat, wide-body Airbus A330-200 aircraft, adding nearly 46,000 new air seats to the market annually to the benefit of Hawaii's visitor industry.
Mike McCartney, president and CEO of Hawaii's Tourism Authority, said that the new service will help to further expand the vastly growing Asia market for Hawaii's tourism sector.
With Hawaii expecting to host over 10,000 visitors from Taiwan in 2012, the association said it hoped the new service would help further increase arrivals from the country.
Meanwhile, Taipei-based Lion Travel Service Co. said interest in visiting Hawaii has surged in recent months.
The company added that it will work with China Airlines, Taiwan's largest airline company, to provide three charter flights to meet growing travel demand during the Lunar New Year holiday season in February.
(By Lee Hsin-Yin)