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Taiwan expects tourist boost to US with visa waiver

03 october 2012, 14:24
0
©REUTERS/David Grey
©REUTERS/David Grey
Taiwanese officials said Wednesday that visitors to the United States are estimated to increase by 50 percent now that the island has been added to the US visa waiver programme, AFP reports.

The move will allow Taiwanese visitors to enter the US for 90 days without a visa, a privilege already extended to people of 36 nations.

Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou welcomed the decision, saying in a statement it would "further stimulate bilateral trade and give a major boost to civil exchanges and tourism".

In recent years, more than 400,000 Taiwanese have visited the US annually. That number could now grow by another 200,000, according to Taiwan's government.

The island's foreign ministry estimates a 50 percent boost in visitors as a result of the waiver, based on what happened after Britain introduced a similar measure in 2009.

White House spokesman Jay Carney announced the US move on Tuesday, calling it a logical development in the "close security, economic and people-to-people relationship between the US and Taiwan".

Washington officially recognises Beijing over Taipei but maintains close trade ties with the island and is its leading arms supplier.

Beijing still claims sovereignty over Taiwan and has threatened to invade should it declare formal independence. However the two have been ruled separately since the end of a civil war in 1949.

In one remark that may anger China, Carney briefly referred to Taiwan as "the latest country to join this program" although earlier in his briefing he referred to the island as a "member".

He also insisted that no message was being sent to any other country, implying China, with the move.

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