Taiwan's picturesque landscape charms Russian tourists
Taiwan's government has sought to strengthen ties with Russia and introduced a 14-day visa waiver for Russian nationals on Sept. 6, 2018, which runs until July 31, 2019.
Following the arrival of four groups of Russian tourists in September and October last year, the current tour group arrived in Taiwan on Dec. 31, and kicked off an 11-day round-the-island tour with the New Year's Day fireworks at Taipei 101, the tallest building in Taiwan.
According to tour guide Lu Po-chi, the group started in Taipei and then headed to Sun Moon Lake in Nantou, Alishan mountains in Chiayi, Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Monastery in Kaohsiung, Kenting in Pingtung.
From there they visited Jhihben in Taitung, Taroko in Hualien and returned to Taipei, added Lu.
When asked what appeals most to Russians about Taiwan, one of the tourists Valentina Ignatenko immediately thought of all the fruit available in Taiwan, especially dragon fruit and sugar apples.
Russia is highly dependent on imported fruit and there is not such a wide selection to choose from, added Ignatenko.
Russians also enjoy eating, so Taiwanese snacks and dishes were a big hit, she said.
Another tourist, Galina Vovna, said in an interview with Central News Agency this is her first time in Taiwan, and she has been amazed by the island's gorgeous mountains and sea views.
Growing up in Vladivostok, a port city in Eastern Russia, Vovna said she was particularly impressed with Kaohsiung as she likes places with a sea view.
Maria, who also comes from Vladivostok, said Taiwan's dazzling natural scenery is different to her hometown, making Taiwan an attractive destination for the younger generation.
According to Taiwan's Tourism Bureau, before the introduction of the 14-day visa waiver, about 600-900 Russian nationals visited Taiwan every month.
Vovna said it used to be extremely inconvenient to get the required documents to visit Taiwan as Vladivostok is more than 9,000 kilometers from the Russian capital Moscow.
In the past, the inconvenience made it difficult for people to visit Taiwan, but with the launch of the visa-waiver program, the number will definitely increase, said Vovna.