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Press Release

Visit Usa Committee Public-Private Effort Launched to Promote Tourism to the U.S.

The American Institute in Taiwan and the American Chamber of Commerce are happy to announce the establishment of a Visit USA Committee in Taiwan. Today, Taiwan welcomes the opening of the 35th Visit USA Committee in the world. Visit USA Committees throughout the globe have one goal: to work with all interested organizations in order to promote business and leisure travel to the United States. The new Committee will be under the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei. Amcham Taipei is dedicated to promoting the interests of international business in Taiwan. With almost 1,000 members representing over 600 companies, AmCham speaks with collective authority on international business in every sector of the economy.

Visit USA Committees are initially organized and sustained in cooperation with the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA), and with the support of TIA and others, many Visit USA Committees have already proven successful. "It is very important to TIA that we establish a presence on Taiwan that represents U.S. tourism destinations," Vice President of International Marketing Mark Hoy said. "The Visit USA Committee will serve as a valuable liaison between the United States and Taiwanese travel industries and other tourism interests."

Flight statistics show that for Taiwan visitors to the United States, the top four most popular destinations are Los Angeles, San Francisco, Hawaii, and Las Vegas, Nevada. Nevada alone welcomes more than 60,000 Taiwanese visitors a year, making Taiwan the 10th largest source of international visitors to that state. Due to Nevada's special interest and commitment to the Taiwan tourism market, the State of Nevada is providing generous initial support for the new Visit USA Committee, and Nevada's visiting Lieutenant Governor Lorraine Hunt will present a check to the Committee during a press conference on May 22, 2000. Lt. Gov. Hunt also chairs the Nevada Commission on Tourism (NCOT). Mr. Paul Cassingham, President of Amcham Taipei, will represent the Visit USA Committee to receive the check from Lt. Gov. Hunt.

"Nevada is committed to building our friendship with Taiwan and extends a sincere welcome to the people of Taiwan to visit our country and our state," Lt. Gov. Hunt said. "We look forward with great anticipation to sharing with you the scenic wonders, outdoor recreation, and intriguing historic and cultural sites."

The new Visit USA Committee will also be receiving funding from the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA), represented by sustaining member of the Board of Directors, Thomas Tait. Mr. Tait also serves as the executive director of the Nevada Commission on Tourism (NCOT) as well as founding chairman of the Board of the Western States Tourism Policy Council (WSTPC), which has also committed resources to establish an effective Visit USA effort.

"The United States is intensely interested in building tourism with Taiwan and welcoming visitors from Taiwan to our states," Mr. Tait said. "We in the U.S. tourism industry, and particularly the western states that WSTPC represents, have visited Taiwan many times over the past decade to attend trade shows and other tourism events. Now we are expanding the limits of our warm relationship with Taiwan by establishing a Visit USA Committee, as has occurred in other places in Asia, Europe, South America and Oceania."

Several other state tourism officials have echoed this sentiment. Washington State's commitment is demonstrated by Lieutenant Governor Brad Owen's participation in today's press conference. "The tourism agencies represented by WSTPC value the relationship our states have cultivated with Taiwan, and we look forward to enriching our cultural exchanges in tourism and travel for leisure and business for many years to come," said WSTPC Chair Robin Pollard, director of the Washington Division of Tourism. Mark McDermott, WSTPC vice chair and director of the Arizona office of Tourism, said, "Our western states have nurtured the association with Taiwan for many years, and the time has come to formalize these important ties by creating the Visit USA Committee."

Statistics from AIT's Travel Services Section indicate the United States has been and remains by far the most popular destination for those in Taiwan traveling outside of Asia. In 1999, the United States attracted over 560,000 visitors from Taiwan alone. This high flow of outbound tourists from Taiwan is due to many factors, including the strength of the Taiwan economy and the close relationship that the United States and Taiwan enjoy. Consequently, we fully expect Taiwan's outbound travel to continue to increase.

In line with Taiwan's development, AIT's Travel Services Section points out that visas to the United States have become much easier to obtain than in the past. The process has been streamlined and new processes initiated. With the innovative "drop-box" application process, almost half of Taiwan tourists to the United States may apply for a visa without personally appearing at AIT's Travel Services Section for an interview. The United States offers to all its visitors unparalleled diversity in culture, geography, and special attractions. Taiwan tourists particularly enjoy U.S. national parks, amusement and theme spots, shopping, theaters, places of cultural/historic interest, skiing, and golfing.

AIT's American Resource Center located at 54 Nan Hai Road in Taipei provides a wealth of information resources for travelers interested in tourism in the United States. Resource materials available include maps, travel guides and information about national parks.

Once established, the Visit USA Committee will be working closely with travel agents to increase interest in visiting the United States. The Committee will also organize U.S. travel shows and help to develop interest in new travel destinations in the United States. It is off to an excellent start with financial help by the western states, especially Nevada; TIA; the organizational support of Amcham; and the energy and commitment of the Committee members, including major airlines, U.S. state offices in Taiwan, travel service providers, AIT's Commercial Section and AIT's Travel Services Section.

For more information about the Visit USA Committee in Taiwan, please contact: Ms. Shirley Wang, specialist at the AIT Commercial Section; Tel: 2720-1550 ext. 309; Fax: 2757-7162.