Sat, Nov 15, 2003 - Page 4 News List

Faster visas to the Philippines issued

BON VOYAGE Visas to the Philippines are now easier to obtain with the introduction of a same-day service and a new counter at Kaohsiung International Airport

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

In a bid to draw more tourists to visit Taiwan's southern neighbor, Philippine tourism authorities yesterday released a series of travel packages featuring the "wonders" of the Philippines.

The Manila Economic and Cultural Office in Taiwan has made the visa application procedure easier for travel to the Philippines. Applicants can obtain their visas the same day they send the applications, said Department of Tourism Secretary Richard Gordon yesterday.

The office has also set up a visa service counter at the Kaohsiung International Airport.

"Passengers can now get their visas just before they board their flights," Gordon said.

Adding that the Philippines is only one-and-a-half hours away by air, Gordon encouraged Taiwan's airlines to increase services between Taiwan and Philippine tourist destinations.

Gordon also spoke on security concerns that deter many tourists from visiting the archipelago.

Urging the media to report fairly on the actual security situation, Gordon stressed his country has a low crime rate and makes a special effort to ensure a safe time is had by all tourists. These efforts have included increasing police numbers and tightening community vigilance against crime, he said.

Gordon also urged Taiwan's government to loosen restrictions on Filipinos applying for visas.

The travel packages unveiled by Gordon emphasized scuba diving, shopping, golfing, trekking, clubbing, surfing and dream weddings, among others.

"The Philippines is to scuba divers what Switzerland is to skiers, Hawaii to surfers, and Nepal to mountaineers" is how international magazine Action Asia Adventure Travel Guide describes the Philippines' dive experience.

Gordon, who hopes to establish a reputation for the Philippines as "the dive center of Asia," said scuba divers can explore the underwater world with whales swimming just "an arm away."

Gordon's department has created wedding packages in key tourist destinations for as low as NT$13,600 in a bid to promote the country as a prime Asian holiday wedding destination.

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