The diplomatic rift between Taiwan and the Philippines over the shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman by Filipino Coast Guard personnel in May has affected visitor arrivals from that country, according to the Tourism Bureau.
Filipino citizens made 49,197 visits to Taiwan in the first half of this year, down 8.7 percent from the level a year earlier, the bureau’s statistics show.
Taiwan had imposed 11 retaliatory measures against the Philippines after Filipino coast guard officers sprayed bullets on a Taiwanese fishing boat — the Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28 — in the two countries’ overlapping exclusive economic zones on May 9, causing the death of 65-year-old Hung Shih-cheng (洪石成). The sanctions including a freeze on the hiring of Filipino workers, issuance of a “red” travel advisory, suspension of official bilateral cooperation, and revocation of visa-free privileges for Philippine passport holders with US, Schengen or Japanese visas.
The sanctions were lifted yesterday after the Philippines took steps in response to Taiwan’s four demands — a formal apology, punishment of those responsible for the shooting, compensation for the Hung family and bilateral fishery talks to prevent the occurrence of similar incidents in the future.
“Effective today, the relations between our two countries are back to normal,” Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin (林永樂) told a press conference in Taipei on Thursday evening.
The Tourism Bureau said it hopes the number of Filipino arrivals will rebound gradually now the sanctions are lifted.
Meanwhile, the number of arrivals from Japan also registered a 7.6 percent annual decline in the first half of the year, with the number plunging from 714,573 to 660,606, the bureau said.
The bureau attributed the dwindling Japanese arrivals mainly to the dramatic depreciation of the yen over the past few months.