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Hawaii expects to gain from visa waiver for Taiwanese tourists

By Allison Schaefers

LAST UPDATED: 4:11 p.m. HST, Oct 2, 2012

Hawaii is expected to benefit from the announcement today that the United States will permit visa-free travel for eligible Taiwanese travelers who are visiting for up to 90 days for business or tourism.

Taiwan has been approved to join the list of 36 nations who are part of the U.S. Visa Waiver Program, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in a news release.

“Today’s announcement is a major step forward in our long-standing economic partnership with Taiwan,” Napolitano said. “Taiwan’s participation in the VWP will not only stimulate tourism in the United States, it will also enable us to work together to maintain the strictest security standards.” 

Hawaii, which welcomed 8,186 visitors from Taiwan in 2011, is expected to see the numbers rise significantly as did the number of visitors from South Korea after it achieved visa waiver status in 2008.

Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz said similar growth patterns are possible with Taiwan, which has a population of 23 million.

“Increasing ease of access to Hawaii is great news for our economy,” Schatz said. "It will be much easier to travel to Hawaii from Taiwan, and puts us on track for steady growth in this market.” 

Schatz led a delegation to Taiwan in May to attend the inauguration of President Ma Ying-Jeou, who has been a strong advocate for securing visa-free status for Taiwanese travelers. 

“Our conversation with President Ma was extremely productive, and this action by the Department of Homeland Security will solidify our relationship with Taiwan,” Schatz said. 

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