Thailand’s new requirements for electronic visas do not specifically target Taiwanese, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday, after Bangkok’s new rules sparked complaints.
The Thailand Trade and Economic Office in Taipei on Nov. 12 announced that the new electronic visa application and payment policy would take effect on Saturday.
Applicants are required to present identification documents and financial statements, and make an appointment with the office to submit their passports in person, the rules say.
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislative caucus on Monday at a news conference in Taipei urged the ministry to issue a protest to Thailand over the policy.
Visa application rules in the two nations are not reciprocal and President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) New Southbound Policy has failed, the caucus said.
The ministry relayed the complaints to the office, which on Monday released a statement, Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs Deputy Director-General Fan Hui-chun (范惠君) told a regular news briefing in Taipei yesterday.
The new rules also apply to British, Chinese and French passport holders, and would be extended to more nations, the statement said.
Taiwan was included because its information technology is one of the most advanced in the world, it said.
Applicants can provide photocopies of their bankbook cover or proof of their bank account balance without having to obtain additional bank-approved documents, ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said, citing a separate statement the office released on Friday.
Taiwan offers visa-free entry for Thai passport holders mainly to attract more tourists and boost bilateral exchanges in industry, culture and education, she said, adding that the program has proved successful and would be reassessed regularly.
The ministry would continue to strive to obtain better visa treatment for Taiwanese, Ou said.
To diversify its sources of foreign tourists, Taiwan since August 2016 has offered 14-day visa waiver programs to Thailand and Brunei, followed by the Philippines in 2017 and Russia last year.
The ministry has said that the programs would be evaluated every three years.
From January to October, the number of Taiwanese visiting Thailand reached 700,356, increasing more than 23 percent from the same period last year, Tourism Bureau data showed.
The number of Thai tourists visiting Taiwan totaled 321,086 in the period, up 30.6 percent from a year earlier, the data showed.
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