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Hawaii eyes cash in on Taiwan's newly acquired visa-waiver status

TAIPEI--The Hawaiian tourism office in Taiwan launched a promotional tour package yesterday in cooperation with local travel agencies to take advantage of a potential tourism boost from Taiwan's inclusion in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program (VWP).

Hawaii Tourism Asia's office in Taipei said the seven-day tour will depart from Taiwan Nov. 1 — the first day Taiwan's visa-waiver status takes effect — and will cost less than NT$70,000 (US$2,383.15) per person.

The tour will take participants to Pearl Harbor, Diamond Head and other famous destinations, the office said.

The United States Department of Homeland Security announced Taiwan's VWP membership on Tuesday. Under the program, Taiwan's passport holders will be granted visa-free stays of up to 90 days in the United States.

Meanwhile, Lo Tsai-ling, marketing director at California-based Kirk Vacation, praised Taiwan's inclusion in the program and expected that the number of Taiwanese tourists in the U.S. will increase by 15-20 percent in the early stages after the VWP takes effect.

The increase will be even bigger if airlines and hotels offer more promotional deals, he said.

Ho Chia-yen, director at Ho Ho Travel Inc. in Los Angeles, said many tours to the U.S. West Coast that target Taiwanese tourists have lowered their prices by 10 percent to attract business.

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