Citizens to enjoy free HK visa applications starting Sept. 1

Wednesday, May 16, 2012
By Grace Soong,The China Post

Beginning Sept. 1, citizens of the Republic of China will be able to take advantage of free online visa applications to enjoy easy travel to Hong Kong, government officials from the southern Chinese city announced at the grand opening of the Hong Kong Economic, Trade and Cultural Office in Taiwan (HKETCO, 香港經濟貿易文化辦事處) in Taipei yesterday.

“By establishing the HKETCO, we envision not only enhancing the trade and commercial relations between Hong Kong and Taiwan, but also strengthening the understanding between the two peoples,” said John Tsang (曾俊華), financial secretary of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government and honorary chairperson of the Hong Kong-Taiwan Economic and Cultural Cooperation and Promotion Council (ECCPC).

Fruitful achievements on various fronts have resulted over the past two years from cooperation between the ECCPC and the Taiwan-Hong Kong Economic and Cultural Cooperation Council (THEC), including “the promotion of trade and cultural exchanges, the strengthening of cooperation on financial supervision, the renewal of air services agreement between the two places, and the facilitation of transshipment of goods,” Tsang pointed out.

To further facilitate the entry of Taiwanese visitors to Hong Kong, Tsang announced the new arrangements, which will take effect beginning Sept. 1. All R.O.C. citizens visiting Hong Kong will be eligible to make prior entry registration via the Internet, free of charge. Only authorized travel agencies are currently able to make such online pre-registrations, which require a fee of HK$50.

Elaborating on Tsang's announcement, Director of the ECCPC Lai Tung-kwok (黎棟國) pointed out that after providing personal identification and travel plans to Hong Kong on the designated website, applicators should be issued free visas within “as soon as one to two minutes.”

The printed visas are valid for two months. Visitors are allowed to stay in Hong Kong for up to 30 days per trip, and each visa provides two entry opportunities. After the visa expires, one can reapply, with unlimited applications available to all.

So as to provide the general public with more information on how to enjoy travel in the unique metropolis, the HKETCO also introduced a cultural publication, titled “Art and Culture @ Hong Kong” (藝行@香港), Director of the HKETCO John Leung (梁志仁) said.

Beginning today, the book will be free for all and available at HKETCO and also at major bookstores and art galleries throughout Taiwan.

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