Taipei, Taiwan – The long-awaited European Schengen visa-waiver liberalization for Republic of China passport holders officially went into effect Tuesday and is considered a welcome economic stimulant by many European countries.
According to Pavel Skoda, deputy representative of the Czech Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei, his country, which accepted more than 20,000 visa applications from Taiwanese people last year, looks forward to welcoming even larger number of Taiwanese visitors under the new visa-free privileges.
“We note with satisfaction that over the years, local travel agencies have developed very popular travel routes including the Czech Republic, where the visa waiver should be helpful in further extension of available offers and reduction of costs,” he said.
He said his government is supporting the aim of introducing direct flights between Taipei and Czech Republic and improving the flight connections in a bid to cut down travel time.
Spain is also hoping to lure more Taiwanese tourists by appealing to tour operators.
According to Gonzalo Ferreiros Mareque, foreign trade advisor for the Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan, the chamber plans to organize two trade missions this year for Taiwanese travel agencies and local media.
In 2010, Spain issued 15,488 short-term tourist visas for Taiwanese people and it hopes the new visa-free access will boost the figure.
He said Taiwanese tourists’ relatively high purchasing power, the stable and fruitful cooperation between Europe and Taiwan, as well as Taiwan’s low illegal immigration figures and its use of anti-counterfeiting measures for its passports, all contribute to Spain’s unequivocal support for the European Commission’s decision to offer the visa-waiver privileges.
The Trade Office of Swiss Industries (TOSI) also aims to intensify its contacts with local travel agencies to promote Switzerland to Taiwanese tourists.
In addition to participating in the annual Taiwan international travel fair, tourist representatives are planning to visit Taiwan in the first half of this year to meet with local travel agents and the media in a bid to woo more Taiwanese tourists, said the office.
The program was also warmly welcomed by the French Institute in Taipei.
The institute pointed out that after the United Kingdom waived visa obligations in March 2009, the number of Taiwanese tourists and businessmen traveling there on short-term trips increased 30 percent in one year.
“We are looking forward to the number of Taiwanese visitors also increasing in the same proportion in the Schengen area and in France,” said the institute.