Ma aims to net Olympic tourists


Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou yesterday proposed developing the nation’s tourism market by providing visa-free or visa-upon-arrival services to attract visitors to the upcoming Beijing Olympics via direct flights if he is elected later this month.

On Friday Ma vowed to start weekend charter flights by July and daily charter flights by the end of the year if elected. He said yesterday that his schedule for direct flights would attract tourists to make a stop in Taiwan on their way to the Beijing Olympics in August.

“Without shortening the traveling time or making transportation more convenient, who would want to tour Taiwan when so much time is wasted in transits alone?” Ma said while unveiling his tourism policy yesterday at Da-an Park in Taipei.

The weekend charter flights would be enhanced to become normal cross-strait flights one year after his inauguration, Ma said.

Opening up direct links and relaxing regulations on investment would help to encourage businesspeople in China to repatriate their investments, he said.

Ma also vowed to allow 3,000 Chinese tourists to visit Taiwan every day, which would help to revive the economy and stimulate the nation’s tourism industry.

He proposed expanding the routes between China and Taiwan and to increase entry and exit points to facilitate cross-strait travel.

Ma also proposed granting visa-free or visa-upon-arrival services to visitors from Asia and the Middle East who had obtained a US visa or permanent residency, seeking to attract more international tourists to the nation.

“Simplifying the procedures will definitely help to attract more visitors,” he said.

Promising to establish a NT$30 billion (US$970 million) fund to develop the country’s tourism industry, Ma pledged to put greater effort into promoting the cultural and historical relics on show at the National Palace Museum and to drive the country’s tourism industry forward.

Ma condemned his Democratic Progressive Party rival Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) for copying his direct flight policies and for failing to provide a clear schedule.

“My rival keeps learning from me, but he did not make his policies clear,” he said.

At a separate setting, Ma discussed reform of the judicial system with members of the Judicial System Reform Alliance and vowed to push for the abolishment of the death penalty if elected.

Ma, a former justice minister, expressed his support for the abolition of the death penalty, but said that making such a move would require social consensus.

Before abolishing the death penalty, Ma said, the judicial system needs to come to a consensus and decrease the number of death penalty verdicts handed down, while establishing comprehensive supplementary measures, so that more people would be willing to accept the abolition of the death penalty.