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NIA to allow longer stay for mainland tourists

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The National Immigration Agency (NIA) stated yesterday that it plans to increase the stay of mainland China's individual visitors from 15 to 30 days if they come to travel in Taiwan for a second time. However, further deliberation of the plan is necessary as there are still some concerns.

The NIA announced on Aug. 11 that it may modify certain regulations regarding tourists from mainland China. The modified laws could enable mainland Chinese individual visitors to stay longer in Taiwan if they do not have any record of violating regulations during their first visit.

However, Chou Ni-an (周倪安), a Taiwan Solidarity Union legislator, questioned the plan yesterday, saying that the number of mainland Chinese who try to stay in Taiwan illegally has reached 2,802 people according to government statistics. About 70 percent of them stay illegally in Taiwan for over a year.

In addition, Chou expressed her concerns that there are still over 2,300 mainland Chinese who stayed illegally and have not been found so far. Therefore, the government should have a functioning system to prevent this situation from occurring before opening restrictions.

According to statistics from the Tourism Bureau, mainland Chinese visitors usually spend eight to nine days in Taiwan. The Tourism Bureau also pointed out that opening up restrictions will enable tourist agencies to arrange in-depth travel packages, which may bring benefits to the industry. In addition, most visas that foreign countries issue are for 30 days. For these reasons, the Tourism Bureau believes that the plan will reap rewards for the tourism industry.

However, Chou is still of the opinion that the disadvantages of such changes will outweigh the advantages.

The NIA's Response

Responding to Chou's doubts, the NIA also said that there is an inspection system to check all applications from mainland Chinese people wishing to visit Taiwan. The NIA will not approve applications until it has confirmed the purpose and identities of applicants.

Tsau Gu-ling (曹顧齡), from the NIA, said that the percentage of mainland Chinese staying illegally in Taiwan is approximately four per 100,000 visitors, which is pretty low compared to Japan, Australia and New Zealand. Therefore, there should not be too many concerns.

Tsau also pointed out that the NIA will delay the plan since there are still some concerns over this issue, although the plan is ready to be presented to the Executive Yuan.

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