Kiribati Teirio Islet, Abaiang. Photo courtesy of Luciano Napolitano/TAK
The Tourism Authority of Kiribati (TAK) on Monday welcomed China’s official declaration of Kiribati as a tourism destination for Chinese citizens, an apparent reward for the restoration of their diplomatic ties.
“This announcement comes following the historical state visit to China by Kiribati President Hon Taneti Maamau,” TAK said in a press statement issued Monday.
Beijing granted Kiribati’s an approved destination status almost four months since the Pacific island nation cut its diplomatic ties with Taiwan in favor of China.
“The approved destination status (ADS) is the arrangement between the Chinese government and the government of Kiribati to let Chinese holiday travelers visit Kiribati in a tour group,” the tourism office said. “The ADS therefore give the Tourism Authority of Kiribati the permission to promote Kiribati as a holiday destination in China and presents Kiribati with the opportunity to grow tourism accordingly.”
The 33 islands of Kiribati is situated in the heart of the Pacific where the equator and the international datelines meet. Kiribati is the only country positioned in all four hemisphere’s – northern, southern, eastern and western hemispheres.
Kiribati is the site of a mothballed Chinese space tracking station, which was shut down by Beijing when the two countries severed ties in 2003 and Kiribati switched recognition to Taipei.