The suspension of all outbound and inbound tours for Taiwanese travel agencies is to be extended until the end of next month, as the COVID-19 pandemic shows no signs of abating, the Tourism Bureau said yesterday.
The ban, which began on March 19, was originally scheduled to last until the end of this month.
Although Taiwan has reached 101 days with no new domestic cases of COVID-19 and over the past few weeks has had only a handful of new imported cases, the number of confirmed cases worldwide has passed 15 million, with more than 610,000 deaths, according to WHO data.
In accordance with the Central Epidemic Command Center’s (CECC) disease prevention measures, the bureau said that it has extended the ban until Aug. 31.
Taiwan bans the entry of foreign nationals with few exceptions, and overseas arrivals, including Taiwanese nationals, are subject to a 14-day quarantine upon entry.
In other news, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday said that the visa-free privilege extended to tourists from Thailand, Brunei, the Philippines and Russia would be extended for one year, effective from Saturday next week to July 31 next year.
The ministry said that the policy is not a relaxation of Taiwan’s ban on the entry of foreign tourists due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Whether restrictions on foreign nationals coming to Taiwan for tourism purposes will be relaxed depends on the CECC’s assessment of the global pandemic situation,” the ministry said in a statement.
The decision to extend the visa-free treatment for the countries was reached following assessments in an inter-agency meeting on May 29, it said.
“The number of tourists last year from Thailand, Brunei, the Philippines and Russia rose 34.49 percent, 41.32 percent, 100.37 percent and 407.55 percent respectively year-on-year, indicating that the visa-free measures are attracting foreign travelers,” it said.
The Taiwanese government gave visa-free treatment to select countries beginning in 2016 under its New Southbound Policy, which seeks closer exchanges with countries in the region, especially those in Southeast Asia.
The inter-agency meeting also extended a project for simplifying visa regulations for high-end group tourists from Southeast Asian countries until Dec. 31 next year, the ministry said.
The project, aimed at making it easier for high-end tourists from Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam to visit Taiwan, was first implemented on Nov. 1, 2015, and is to expire at the end of this year.
The ministry also announced that starting on Saturday next week, holders of Japanese or South Korean visas who wish to apply for conditional visa-free entry must present proof of entry in at least one of the two countries.
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