Taiwan to relax visa rules for Macau and Hong Kong visitors

The new rule will apply to visitors traveling on cruise ships. Pic: HTU/Shutterstock

FROM January 1, Macau and Hong Kong residents traveling to Taiwan via cruise tours will be able to apply for double visas within a three-month period which will grant them two entries with a single application.

Deputy director-general of the National Immigration Agency (NIA), Jeff Yang, said that 140,000 people arrived in Taiwan aboard cruise ships this year with 20,000 hailing from Hong Kong or Macau.

Yang also noted that cruise ship operators pushed for the relaxing of visa rules to boost inbound tourists as there was plenty of “room for growth”.

The Ministry of the Interior said the new measure for Hong Kong and Macau residents would help Taiwan become a key port of call for international cruise operators.

The cruise industry in Asia is experiencing a boom with at least 2.08 million Asians having sailed aboard a cruise ship in 2015.

Zinan Liu, chair of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), North Asia, said, “While we expected Asia to experience record-breaking growth in cruise travel, we are astonished at the rate at which the region is emerging as one of the most significant cruise destinations and cruise source markets in the world.”

China accounted for the largest share of the numbers, making up almost half of the total passenger count, or 986,000 passengers. China’s numbers are up by 40 percent from the year before.

SEE ALSO: China at the forefront of Asia’s rapidly growing cruise industry