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AIT to celebrate Taiwan's formal VWP entry

TAIPEI--The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) said yesterday it will hold a ceremony to celebrate the first commercial flight from Taiwan to the U.S. after Taiwan's admission to the U.S. Visa Waiver Program (VWP) takes effect on Nov. 1.

The CI006 flight — a China Airlines (CAL) codeshare with Delta Air Lines — is scheduled to depart from Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport for Los Angeles at 5:10 p.m. on Nov. 1.

Foreign Minister David Lin, AIT Director Christopher Marut, and CAL Chairman Chang Chia-juch will address the ceremony, according to an AIT press release.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced on Oct. 2 Taiwan's inclusion in VWP, with effect from Nov. 1.

Taiwanese nationals who hold e-passports and have their ID numbers in their passports, indicating that they are permanent residents of the country, will be eligible to enter the U.S. without a visa for stays of up to 90 days, but will still need to apply for an electronic travel authorization online for a fee of US$14.

Hawaii to Kaohsiung Flight Evaluated

Meanwhile representatives of commercial carriers from Hawaii were evaluating the possible business opportunities of offering direct flights between Hawaii and Kaohsiung now that Taiwanese nationals no longer need visas for trips to the United States, according to Shen.

Taiwan has been admitted to the U.S.'s Visa Waiver Program, and from Nov. 1, Taiwanese nationals will be entitled to visa-free treatment.

Shen said American airliner operators visited Kaohsiung a few days ago to study the market and local reaction to the visa-waiver treatment.

While the preferential treatment is expected to boost visits by Taiwanese travelers to the United States, its attraction for Kaohsiung residents is likely to be limited because of the lack of direct flights between Kaohsiung and the U.S., according to Shen.

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