Tue, Apr 29, 2014 - Page 5 News List

Philippines seeks to set up online visa application system

EASING TRAVEL:The online application system is to be made available by the end of the year. Manila hopes the system will draw Taiwanese tourists

Staff writer, with CNA

The Philippines is preparing to launch an online visa application system for Taiwanese as part of efforts to make the visa process more convenient, according to the Philippines’ representative to Taiwan.

The Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) is evaluating ways to make visa process more convenient and easier for Taiwanese visitors to the Southeast Asian country, MECO Managing Director Antonio Basilio said in am interview with the Central News Agency.

In line with such efforts, the online visa application system is to be available by the end of this year, he said.

Currently, Taiwanese applicants have to go to MECO to submit their applications in person and can obtain the visa within a day.

To make business travel easier, the Philippines also grants multiple-entry visas to Taiwanese businesspeople, Basilio said.

According to official statistics, a total of 178,876 Taiwanese visited the Philippines in 2011, 211,385 in 2012 and 129,361 last year.

The drop in the number of Taiwanese travelers last year could be related to the shooting death of a Taiwanese fisherman by Philippine Coast Guard personnel in May last year, triggering sanctions by Taipei against the Philippines, including discouraging Taiwanese from visiting the country. The sanctions were lifted in August last year.

As bilateral ties have returned to normal and the Philippines has been promoting tourism, the number of Taiwanese visitors this year is expected to rise again, MECO said.

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