The recent news that Taiwan will be a part of the U.S. Visa Waiver Program, seen as a significant step for Hawaii’s tourism industry, prompted Mike McCartney, president and CEO of Hawaii Tourism Authority, to issue a statement praising the decision.
The statement is as follows:
"Last year, Hawaii welcomed 8,186 visitors from Taiwan in 2011 and projects 10,642 arrivals by the end of 2012.
China Airlines, based out of Taiwan, currently operates daily service from Taipei to Honolulu via Narita. Taiwan also serves as a transfer point to Hawaii 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.
"Following the Visa Waiver Program with Korea in 2008, Korean arrivals increased by 35 percent 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.
"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 Hawaii Tourism Asia and industry partners to increase travel from Taiwan to the Hawaiian Islands."