Philippines mulls cutting visa fees for Taiwanese travelers

The Philippines is considering cutting visa fees for Taiwanese passport holders and extending length of validity of some multiple entry visas

(Image by Pixabay user AvidExplorer)

(Image by Pixabay user AvidExplorer)

Taipei, Oct. 17 (CNA) The Philippines is considering cutting visa fees for Taiwanese passport holders and extending the length of validity of some of its multiple entry visas, the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) in Taipei said Tuesday.

"These measures have been under serious study during the past few months and the final recommendations will be drawn up in the policy planning sessions next month," MECO Chairman and Resident Representative Angelito Banayo told CNA in an email in response to a question about Manila's plans on visas.

The new visa measures will need to be deliberated upon by the MECO board of directors in December as part of its policy planning and budgetary programs for next year, Banayo said in the email.

The email did not specify if all of the visas the Philippines issues to Taiwan passport holders would benefit from fee cuts and extended validity periods.

But a source speaking on condition of anonymity because the individual was not authorized to speak publicly on the issue said the new policy would not affect visas obtained through the Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) system.

At present, Taiwanese passport holders aged 15 and above seeking to visit the Philippines for tourism can apply for a visa online via the ETA system.

Successful applicants are granted a multiple-entry visa for a stay of up to 30 days, according to MECO, and the fee for applying for the visa online is NT$1,100 (US$36.40).

What may benefit from the policy are other visas applied for through the office, such as a single-entry tourist visa valid for 59 days that costs NT$1,200 or a six-month multiple entry business visa that costs NT$5,800.

The source stressed, however, that no final decision on any of the plan's details will be made until December at the earliest.

MECO represents the Philippines' interests in Taiwan in the absence of official diplomatic ties.

MECO's comments were made a day after Taiwan announced on Monday that it will begin on Nov. 1 a trial run of a program offering Philippine nationals visa-free entry to the country for up to 14 days.

The trial program will run until July 31, 2018, and then be reviewed to see if the visa-free privileges should be further extended.

Taiwan's government has been criticized for extending visa-free treatment to Philippine citizens without receiving reciprocal treatment from Manila for Taiwanese nationals traveling to the Philippines.

Filipinos made a total of 161,303 visits to Taiwan between January and July this year, a year-on-year increase of 73.51 percent over the 92,967 visits made in 2016, according to statistics provided by the National Immigration Agency.

Meanwhile, Tourism Bureau statistics show that 231,801 Taiwanese people visited the Philippines in 2016.