Taiwan to Receive US Visa Waiver Status Nov. 1
By Sonia Isotov
The Hawaii Tourism Authority is predicting a significant boost in Taiwanese visitors following Taiwan’s entry into the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) come Nov 1.
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano yesterday announced the designation of Taiwan into the program – streamlining travel for thousands of eligible Taiwan passport holders, while maintaining “strong” security standards.
“The news today that Taiwan will be a part of the Visa Waiver Program is a significant step for Hawaii’s visitor industry,” said Mike McCartney, the president and chief executive officer of the Hawaii Tourism Industry, in a written statement.
“Last year, Hawai‘i welcomed 8,186 visitors from Taiwan in 2011 and projects 10,642 arrivals by the end of 2012.”
McCartney also added that following the start of the VWP with Korea in 2008, Korean arrivals increased by 35% in 2009 and have continued to increase by double-digits since then.
“Visitor expenditures have also increased from $79.4 million in 2008 to $194 million last year. Korea has become one of the fastest growing markets for our tourism economy,” continued McCartney.
China Airlines, based out of Taiwan, currently operates daily service from Taipei to Honolulu via Narita. Taiwan also serves as a transfer point to Hawai‘i from other parts of Asia without direct flights to the Hawaiian islands.
“With Taiwan’s visa waiver status, restoring non-stop air access from Taiwan will be critical in developing the success of this market for Hawaii’s tourism economy,” added McCartney.
“We anticipate seeing similar growth out of Taiwan following their entrance to the Visa Waiver Program. The HTA will utilize a portion of the $2 million from the additional funds for international marketing efforts allocated in the 2012 legislative session, as well as work with Hawai‘i Tourism Asia and industry partners to increase travel from Taiwan to the Hawaiian islands.”
Taiwan will join 36 participants in the VWP—which permits visa-free travel to participating countries for eligible travelers for 90 days or fewer for business or tourism.
In accordance with the VWP designation process, the US Department of Homeland Security determined that Taiwan complies with key security and information-sharing requirements – such as enhanced law enforcement and security-related data sharing with the US; timely reporting of lost and stolen passports; and the maintenance of high standards in counterterrorism, law enforcement, border control, aviation and documenting.
Like other VWP travelers, eligible Taiwan passport holders will be required to apply for advanced authorization through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), a DHS web-based system. Eligible Taiwan passport holders with an approved ESTA will be able to visit the US without visas as of November 1, 2012.