2003-03-27 / Central News Agency /

Malaysia urged to match visa-free
arrangements for Taiwan tourists

A Taiwan official said yesterday that if Malaysia were to match the visa-free treatment that Taiwan gives to Malaysian tourists, Taiwan people would "travel in droves" to the Southeast Asian country.
Wu Wen-Ya, representative of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Malaysia, noted that visits by Malaysian travelers to Taiwan increased by 50 percent after Taiwan granted 14-day visa-free entry to Malaysian visitors.
Wu said he believes that when Taiwan expands the visa-free period to 30 days from May, the number of Malaysian tourists will increase dramatically.
He noted that although Taiwan is affected by the global economic slump, the love of its people for foreign travel is undiminished.
Statistics show that the number of Taiwan tourists to Malaysia totaled 209,700 last year, down from the 250,000 visitors of the year before.
In contrast, however, the number of outbound tourists as a whole showed no decline from the economic slump and in fact rose by about 4 percent from the 7.18 million of the previous year.
Despite these statistics, Wu claimed that Taiwan people still enjoy traveling to Malaysia, and he noted that bilateral trade relations are close. Taiwan is the third-largest foreign investor in Malaysia, which he claimed should bring in more Taiwan tourists. Malaysia should therefore examine why in fact it has seen fewer Taiwan tourist arrivals, he said.
He said that if Malaysia would reciprocate with visa-free entry for visitors from Taiwan, the effect would be instantaneous.
Meanwhile, Taiwan's China Airline office in Malaysia said that it had increased its flights between Taiwan and Malaysia since the beginning of the month to cope with the increasing number of Malaysian tourists and cargo as well as the 30-day visa-free treatment slated for May.
Tung Wei, president of CAL's Malaysia office, said that since Taiwan granted 14-day visa-free treatment to Malaysian tourists last November, passenger loads have increased by 30 percent to 50 percent.
Currently, CAL operates 23 passenger flights between Malaysia and Taiwan per week, while cargo flights have been increased to seven per week.
Tung said that if Malaysia were to adopt reciprocal visa-free treatment for Taiwan, tourism to Malaysia would increase remarkably.