No Tai­wan visa needed for Filipino trav­ellers

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - Asean Focus -

THE first plane from Manila landed in Taipei on Wed­nes­day as Tai­wan com­menced a trial nine-month visa-free travel regime for vis­i­tors from the Philip­pines.

Among its pas­sen­gers was a Filipino me­dia crew in­vited by the Taipei city gov­ern­ment to taste lo­cal del­i­ca­cies and visit tourist at­trac­tions in the cap­i­tal city.

Sig Aldeen, a blog­ger and television host mak­ing his first-ever visit to Tai­wan, said he never had Tai­wanese cui­sine be­fore. Af­ter tast­ing Tai­wanese ham­burger and stinky tofu, he said their very dis­tinct flavours im­pressed him.

The me­dia work­ers were wel­comed by Taipei’s Deputy Mayor Chen Chin-jun, who said he hopes they en­joy their stay in Tai­wan and will help to pro­mote the is­land’s tourist at­trac­tions and food af­ter they re­turn to the Philip­pines.

Sta­tis­tics show that more than 200,000 vis­i­tors came to Tai­wan from the Philip­pines from Jan­uary to Septem­ber this year, a 70 per­cent in­crease com­pared with the same pe­riod last year.

The Manila Eco­nomic and Cul­ture Of­fice, the Philip­pines’ de facto em­bassy in Tai­wan in the ab­sence of for­mal diplo­matic re­la­tions, wel­comed the Tai­wanese gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to grant visa-free en­try to Filipinos for up to two weeks for tourism, business, vis­it­ing rel­a­tives and other pur­poses.

Its Deputy Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Carlo Aquino told Ky­odo News that he ex­pects the pro­gramme will “open the flood­gates for Filipinos who wish to visit Tai­wan as tourists but were stymied by the strin­gent visa re­quire­ments im­posed by the Tai­wan of­fice in Manila be­fore the adop­tion of the new pol­icy.”

The pro­gramme is partly aimed at ad­vanc­ing the gov­ern­ment’s “New South­bound Pol­icy” that cov­ers the 10-mem­ber ASEAN, six South Asian coun­tries, Aus­tralia and New Zealand.

It hopes vis­i­tors from those coun­tries could off­set a sig­nif­i­cant slump in tourists from main­land China, which had dis­placed Ja­pan as the largest source of vis­i­tors in 2010.

There has al­ready been a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in vis­i­tors from ASEAN coun­tries since Tai­wan re­laxed visa rules for them in Au­gust last year. Over 200 mil­lion of them came dur­ing the year be­fore that, up from about 1.5 mil­lion the pre­vi­ous year.

Malaysians and Sin­ga­pore­ans al­ready en­joy full-fledged 30-day visa-free en­try to Tai­wan, while the same ap­plies to pass­port hold­ers from Brunei and Thai­land dur­ing a trial pe­riod last­ing un­til July 31 next year. – Ky­odo

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