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Jun 22, 2011, No.

  • Date:2011-06-22

Significance of the Policy to Allow Independent Travel to Taiwan by Mainland Tourists-- Broadening Benefits for Related Industries, Deepening Experience of Taiwan's Pluralistic Democracy   Mainland Affairs Council, Executive Yuan June 22, 2011 1. Policy Thinking: Opening up while maintaining controls and moving forward in a gradual, orderly manner; expanding the implementation of visits to Taiwan by Mainland tourists on the foundation of the current policy effect. (1) Expanding the policy effect: The Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) signed the “Cross-Strait Agreement on Travel by Mainland Residents to Taiwan” in June 2008. Since July 18, 2008, Mainland tourists have been allowed to visit Taiwan on an "entering and exiting as a group" basis. Up to the end of May this year (2011), over 2.35 million Mainlanders had visited Taiwan in groups for tourism, generating an estimated profit of nearly NT$120 billion (about US$3.8 billion) in foreign exchange for Taiwan's economy. This demonstrates that the policy of allowing Mainland tourist groups to visit Taiwan has brought considerable benefits and that the market is maturing. After assessment made jointly by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, the Ministry of the Interior, and our Council, a policy that allows independent travel to Taiwan by Mainland tourists is planned to be promoted in order to expand the coverage of benefits. (2) Minimizing risks and moving forward in a gradual, orderly manner: Since Mainland tourists were first allowed to visit Taiwan, the escape ratio of Mainland tourists has just been 0.003 percent. By comparison, about 0.09 percent of Mainland tourists visiting Japan have gone missing. This indicates that good results have been achieved through the mechanisms established between the two sides under the Agreement, proven by practical actions in the areas of source management, immigration checks, accident reporting, and location tracking. It also means that the policy has had little impact on the society, while generating enormous economic benefits. In working for the benefit of the people, the government has also shown its trustworthiness in risk management. On this foundation, the methods by which Mainland tourists can visit Taiwan are further opened to the promotion of independent travel, showing that the government is taking responsibility and moving forward in a gradual, orderly manner. The policy principle of "maximizing opportunities and minimizing risks" is truly realized. (3) Extending benefits to more industries and the grassroots level: In terms of travel spending habits, there is a major difference between Mainland tourists and tourists from Europe and the United States. It is estimated that accommodation expenses and shopping account for 80 percent and 20 percent respectively of the travel spending by European and U.S. tourists visiting Taiwan, whereas shopping accounts for 80 percent of Mainland tourists’ spending. Comparatively speaking, the economic benefits brought by Mainland tourists visiting Taiwan can extend to more livelihood industries. Therefore, the government's policy to allow Mainland tourists to travel independently to Taiwan will bring substantive benefits to more common people owing to their in-depth travel and diverse spending habits. (4) Enhancing Taiwan's soft power influence through in-depth interactions: According to the information compiled by Taiwan's travel agencies, what impresses Mainland tourists during their visit in Taiwan is not the hardware construction but the warm hospitality of the people and the pluralistic freedom of the society. After allowing independent travel, high-quality routes and in-depth travel will enable even more Mainland tourists to profoundly experience Taiwan's cultural charm, strengthening the role of Taiwan's soft power in the process of cross-strait exchanges. 2. Public Opinion Based: According to the MAC-commissioned public opinion poll conducted in early September last year (2010) by the Election Study Center of National Chengchi University on the government's plan to allow Mainland tourists to visit Taiwan independently, nearly 60 percent (59.7 percent) of the public approve the government's gradual opening approach and its plan to initially open up to a few trial Mainland provinces and cities with higher income residents. This shows that the great majority of the public is supportive of the government's policy to further allow Mainland tourists to travel independently to Taiwan, while moving forward in a gradual, orderly manner. 3. Safety Management: The currently safety management mechanism for Mainland tourists visiting Taiwan on an "entering and exiting as a group" basis has established a definite foundation and achieved results; therefore the related agencies will further strengthen the relevant facilities, manpower, and measures on this foundation to create a sound safety management mechanism for independent travel by Mainland tourists to Taiwan. The related agencies have already set up supporting management measures for processing such visits, including: prior management (the formulations of application qualifications and a complete review mechanism); monitoring management of Mainland tourists’ movement (the establishment of the “Entry and Exit Information System” and the “Joint Service Center,” as well as the strengthening of related agencies’ reporting operations, and the establishment of an accommodation reporting data system for independent travelers); post management (For example, when the National Immigration Agency's Entry and Exit Information System discovers that a Mainland tourist has not departed Taiwan by the fifteenth day, the National Police Agency and the Taiwan Strait Tourism Association will immediately be contacted to coordinate search assistance. In cases involving overstays, the involved tourist will be responsible for return or repatriation fees resulted from the overstay. If the overstay is the result of a natural disaster or other force majeure factors, notation of this will be made in the National Immigration Agency’s system for follow-up management).