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Tourism Bureau works to give visas on arrival

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Tourism Bureau will work on giving out visas on arrival for more international travelers visiting Taiwan on cruise ships to encourage more tourists to visit the country.

The Tourism Bureau said that it has been working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Immigration Agency to allow more international travelers who come to Taiwan on cruises to receive visas as soon as they arrive.

According to the Tourism Bureau, the cruise passengers from five countries, including India, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines will be the first five countries to be included in the list to receive visas on arrival.

The Tourism Bureau said that those five countries have large numbers of young people, so the bureau hopes that by loosening the threshold for visas it will attract more tourists to the nation.

The numbers of international tourists who visit Taiwan has increased dramatically in recent years, the Tourism Bureau said, and in order to attract more travelers to visit Taiwan, the bureau has to launch more flight routes and loosen the threshold for international cruise passengers.

Based on the experiences of South Korea and Malaysia, the Tourism Bureau said, by including countries that can receive visas on arrival for cruise travel, it can greatly increase the number of international tourists who visit from those countries.

According to the Tourism Bureau, there were around 75,000 people from Malaysia who visited Taiwan in 2002. However, after Taiwan included Malaysia in the visa wavier program in 2003, the number of visitors from Malaysia reached 184,000 in 2009, which was a 145-percent increase in seven years.

The Tourism Bureau said that the nation can also learn from South Korea's experience in promoting tourism. In 2012, South Korea allowed travelers from China who visit South Korea on cruises to receive visas upon arrival, which greatly benefited the country's tourism.

According to the Transportation Ministry, the number of international cruises that arrived in Taiwan in 2013 was 373, which was a new record high. Those cruises brought 536,000 tourists to Taiwan last year and created NT$160 million in revenue.

The Transportation Ministry estimated that the total number of cruises that will visit Taiwan this year will reach 412 and the number of tourists to visit Taiwan will go up to 578,000 annually. This will bring NT$171 million in tourism revenue for Taiwan.

An official at the Tourism Bureau said that the cruise economy route between Taiwan and mainland China will be established soon, so if cruise operators and tourist agencies work with the government they will bring in more tourists and create more revenue for Taiwan in the future.

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