Philippine visitors to Taiwan up nearly 24% in 2016

Number of visitors from the Philippines to Taiwan rises nearly 24% to 172,475 in 2016

Visitors at a tourism fair hosted by Taiwan's Tourism Bureau in the Philippines are given pamphlets by host organizers. (By Central News Agency)

Taipei (Taiwan)—The number of visitors from the Philippines in Taiwan reached over 170,000 in 2016, nearly a 24 percent annual increase that resulted from Taiwan’s streamlined visa procedures and the "New South Bound policy."

Statistics compiled by Taiwan’s Tourism Bureau showed total visitors from Philippines in 2016 increased 23.89 percent to reach 172,475.

Among the total, 48,190 visited Taiwan for tourism, a spike of nearly 60 percent compared to the previous year, according to bureau statistics.

Other purposes of visit last year included 6,551 for business trips, 4,843 to visit relatives residing in Taiwan, and 3,238 for meetings. The remaining listed reasons for visiting were academic studies, exhibitions, medical treatment and others.

Commenting on the surge of Filipino visitors, Taiwan's representative office in the Philippines credited it to the country's policies to streamline visa procedures for citizens from the Southeast Asian country, not to mention the Tourism Bureau's promotion of Taiwan tourism at travel fairs in the Philippines.

In September 2016, Taiwan waived visa regulations on the entry of Philippine visitors that hold permanent residency, visas and resident permits that are valid or expired within 10 years issued from the U.S., Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the Schengen Area or South Korea.

Travelers can apply through an online system for multiple-entry permits that are valid for three months and allow them to stay in Taiwan for a duration of 30-days.

In the following month, the Philippines was included in Taiwan's e-visa program. Starting from then, Philippine citizens can apply for e-visas to Taiwan for short-stays such as for tourism, business, visiting relatives, attending meetings sports events or other purposes.

Under President Tsai Ing-wen's "New Southbound Policy," increased academic exchanges between Taiwan and the Philippines are anticipated in the coming year, said the representative office.

A greater number of Philippine visitors is expected to arrive in Taiwan in 2017, added the office.

Taiwanese visitors to the Philippines also increased 29 percent compared to the previous year to reach a new high of 231,801 in 2016, according to the bureau statistics.