Beijing, Aug 24 (EFE).- The Taiwan government Thursday said it has decided to reopen its borders to Chinese tourists and businesspeople in a big step toward normalization of travel between the two shores of the Strait.
Taiwan closed its borders to foreign travelers in early 2020 to combat Covid-19.
The Central News Agency (CNA) said Taiwan’s China policy-maker Mainland Affairs Council decided to allow Chinese nationals to apply for short-term business visas from Aug.28.
Chinese who live in third countries, like the United States, Japan, and South Korea, will be allowed as tourists from Sep.1.
Chinese in Hong Kong and Macao can also apply to enter Taiwan as tourists.
A month-long preparation to allow tour groups from China will begin from Aug.28.
However, the exact date to allow Chinese tour groups will be decided after China’s response, MAC spokesperson Chan Chih-hung told reporters.
If the plan to allow Chinese tour groups goes ahead, the number of people allowed to enter under that category will be limited to 2,000 per day.
Based on the principle of reciprocity, Taiwanese travel agencies would also be required to limit travel to China to the same number of travelers.
China stopped independent travel to Taiwan on Aug.1, 2019, citing the deteriorating state of cross-strait ties. It then suspended group travel to Taiwan in 2020.
Taiwan Tourism Association president Chen Tsung-jen said the government’s decision to allow Chinese tourists was “very exciting news.”
“It’s been a long road, but we are finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Chen said.
Reopening the borders to Chinese tourists is a critical step for the Taiwanese economy, which is highly dependent on tourism.
In 2019, before the pandemic, Taiwan received more than 4.5 million foreign tourists, of whom 2.3 million were Chinese. EFE