Taipei, Aug. 22 (CNA) Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) has issued a directive for the relevant government agencies to study the feasibility of two proposals put forth by the Taipei City government to boost the country's tourism, the Cabinet spokesperson said Thursday.
The proposals are to extend visa waiver privileges to more Asian and Middle Eastern countries and grant travel subsidies to international visitors, Cabinet spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka (谷辣斯‧尤達卡) said.
Taipei Deputy Mayor Teng Chia-chi (鄧家基), who was invited to speak at a Cabinet meeting Thursday, said the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Arab Gulf States in the Middle East should be included in Taiwan's visa waiver program.
International visitors who arrive in fall and winter and stay at designated hotels should also be granted a government subsidy that was initiated recently to encourage domestic travel, Teng proposed, according to Kolas.
Teng said the incentives will help mitigate the effects of China's recent ban on individual visits to Taiwan by residents of 47 Chinese cities.
In response, Su directed the relevant government agencies to hold discussions with the Taipei City government and study the feasibility of putting the proposals into practice, Kolas said.
Because the two proposals have implications for national security and tourism development, Su said, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) and government agencies related to national security should evaluate risk control and management, while taking into consideration the potential benefits to the country's tourism industry.
On Aug, 1, the same day China's travel ban took effect, the MOTC unveiled a new incentive for domestic travel in fall and winter, offering subsides for hotel accommodation and visits to select tourism sites.
Over the past few years, China has been the largest source visitor arrivals to Taiwan, accounting for up to 40 percent of the total.
Wary of over-reliance on China market, however, the Taiwan government has been working to help transform the tourism industry and expand and diversify the domestic tourism market, Su said.
As a result, he said, the number of international tourists, apart from Chinese travelers, has grown significantly over the past three years to 8.37 million.