Bangkok, Aug. 20 (CNA) Transport Minister Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材) said on Saturday that he had met with tourism officials the day before on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Tourism Ministers’ Meeting ( APEC) and discussed Taiwan’s plans. to lift its border restrictions when the internal COVID-19 situation subsides.
Speaking to CNA, Wang said he told tourism officials attending the APEC meeting in Bangkok, Thailand that it was only a matter of time before Taiwan fully reopened its borders, as the number of national COVID-19 cases has now fallen to around 20,000 a day.
In pre-COVID times, Taiwan allowed visa-free entry for visitors from many countries, Wang said, adding that resuming that program is now a top priority for his ministry.
In the meantime, however, Taiwan is considering granting visas on arrival to visitors from those countries, he said during talks with the tourism ministers of Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia, and the deputy tourism ministers of Japan, South Korea and Vietnam, according to a statement released by the Ministry of Transport.
In addition to speaking on the sidelines of the APEC meeting on the future of tourism, Wang also delivered a speech at one of the official sessions, referring to Taiwan’s efforts to improve the natural environment of its mountains and its seas.
These efforts are part of Taiwan’s government policies to open up its mountainous and marine areas that have been closed to the public, Wang said in his speech, which reflected one of the themes of the APEC meeting, at namely the achievement of environmental sustainability.
Meanwhile, Wang told CNA that he also attended a banquet with representatives from the Thai Travel Agents Association (TTAA) and the Thai Travel Agents Association (ATTA), during which he had proposed a collaborative plan for organized trips from one country to another, which would allow international arrivals to Thailand to also travel to Taiwan.
In return, Taiwanese travel agencies would also promote Thailand tours on their itineraries, which would not only increase the number of flights between the two countries but also help revitalize their tourism industries, he said.
Wang said members of the two Thai associations told him Taiwan was the second-largest destination among Thai travelers and they received inquiries about visiting Taiwan.
According to an APEC press release, participants at the meeting of tourism ministers said they would consider proposing policy recommendations to ensure that the economic benefits of tourism are distributed equitably among local communities.
These will include policies to promote tourism routes that are sustainable, comprehensive and respectful of local and traditional knowledge; gender-sensitive policies to ensure the full and equal participation of women in the tourism sector; and embracing technology to help manage all aspects of tourism, such as streamlining visa mechanisms, according to the press release.
The 11th APEC Tourism Ministers’ Meeting was held in Bangkok from August 14 to 20 under the theme of regenerating tourism markets.