President Ma Ying-jeou told a youth meeting yesterday that the government is working toward the establishment of a culture and tourism ministry to better promote cultural innovation and tourism.
Ma noted that the government raised the education, science and culture budget to NT$343 billion in its 2009 general budget proposal, representing 18.7 percent of the total budget, which he said is proof that the administration considers the issue to be of great importance.

Domestic tourism

Saying that the budget allocated to the ministry will also be greater than that allocated to the existing Council for Cultural Affairs, Ma added that promoting domestic tourism is part of the government’s flagship plans to spur the development of the country’s service industry.

The president pointed out that 3.71 million visitors came to Taiwan last year, while Taiwan tourists made more than 8.67 million overseas visits during the same period. The figures mean that “we still have ample room to improve in this area, ” he said.

Free-visa privileges

Adding that granting free-visa privileges is a measure that can be taken into consideration, Ma also said the central government will provide funding for local governments to boost the development of the tourism industry on a step-by-step and longstanding basis.

The government policy “calls for creativity and promotional efforts to increase Taiwan’s visibility and attract more tourists,” he went on, adding that cultural and artistic activities are also a principal aspect of Taiwan’s tourism industry.

The president also said traditional Taiwanese opera will not fade away as it has taken root in Taiwan, given that many elementary schools provide courses in local theatrical opera.