Fri, Jun 29, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Taiwan extends visa-free program

Staff writer, with CNA

Taiwan is to extend its trial period of visa-free privileges to three Southeast Asian nations by one year until July 31 next year, Minister Without Portfolio Chang Ching-sen (張景森) said yesterday.

The decision to extend the trial period for the Philippines, Thailand and Brunei was reached at an interministerial meeting earlier this month, Chang said.

However, to better manage the program, visitors from the three nations are to be granted visa-free stays of no more than 14 days, he said.

Thais and Bruneians are currently allowed to stay for a maximum of 30 days on visa-free entry, while Filipinos are given up to 14 days.

The government will not add any other countries to the visa-waiver trial program at this time, Chang said, citing concerns over border security, social order and illegal immigration.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Immigration Agency will explore other ways to make visits to Taiwan more convenient, he said.

For example, they will consider expanding the electronic visa system and granting visa-free or visa-on-arrival privileges to passengers on charter flights, he said.

Taiwan introduced visa-free entry to Thais and Bruneians on a trial basis in August 2016 and extended it last year to July 31 this year.

The visa-free trial program for the Philippines began on Nov. 1 last year and is to run through July 31.

The number of Filipino visitors to Taiwan increased from 172,475 in 2016 to 290,784 last year, while arrivals from Thailand soared from 195,640 to 292,534 over the same period, Tourism Bureau data showed.

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