September 23, 2012
Taipei resident Emily Tseng is a self-proclaimed Hong Kong fan who visits Asia’s world city six or seven times a year. Since the September 1 launch of the free online pre-arrival registration for Taiwan residents, she is poised to visit even more often.
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"I love Hong Kong!" Ms Tseng exclaimed after she seized the chance to use the new service and enjoyed a weekend getaway earlier this month.
In its first two weeks, about 27,000 Taiwanese residents had already registered through the service, the Immigration Department said. Before, I had to pay several hundred (New Taiwan Dollars) to apply for a visa through a travel agent in Taiwan, but now I can do it myself online and the service is free. I just print out the slip and fly to Hong Kong - and I can spend more in Hong Kong from the money I saved," Ms Tseng said.
She and her companion are particularly fond of Hong Kong food and can state in Cantonese the names of their favourite dim sum dishes. They are attracted to Hong Kong’s energetic vibe.
“I really love this place. It's full of unlimited fun. I can come more frequently in the future,” Ms Tseng said.
Taiwan tourist Joyce Lin also used the convenient online service for a two-day vacation with her husband. Upon landing at Hong Kong International Airport, they headed straight to Hong Kong Disneyland.
“I didn't know what to expect,” Ms Lin said about her first time using the service. “But I felt happy and excited when I cleared the immigration counter.”
Eligible Taiwan residents can submit their pre-arrival registration to visit Hong Kong through the e-service platform on the GovHK website (www.gov.hk/par) and instantly know the result. Successful applicants can print their own notification slips for pre-arrival registration for Taiwan residents generated by the system, and present them with their travel documents upon arrival to Hong Kong.
Each pre-arrival registration is valid for two months and is good for two entries to Hong Kong, with a stay of up to 30 days as a visitor on each landing.
Hong Kong Tourism Board Chairman James Tien said the new service will attract more Taiwan tourists to Hong Kong, especially the younger generation. The forthcoming Halloween season with its myriad parties and events, and the Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival will be major draws.
To tie in with the new service, the Tourism Board has collaborated with four airlines and more than 50 travel agents across Taiwan to launch promotions and discount travel packages.