TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Visa-free entry for citizens from the Philippines, Thailand, and Brunei is going to be extended for one year, announced Minister without Portfolio Chang Ching-sen (張景森) yesterday (June 28), reported CNA.
After it was determined an inter-ministerial meeting held by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) earlier this month that the current visa-free policy had produced satisfactory results, it was decided that visa-free treatment for citizens of the Philippines, Thailand and Brunei will extended to July 31, 2019.
In order to streamline the program, Chang said that the 30-day visa-free entry originally offered to visitors from Thailand and Brunei, will be reduced to 14 days, as is currently the case with travelers from the Philippines.
Chang said that the committee decided to only extend the visa-free policy to the Philippines, Thailand and Brunei due to concerns over border security, public safety and illegal immigration.
Expressed disappointment that visa-free access could not be continued to other countries, Chang said "Of course the thief can't come in if the door is locked, but you also cannot do business." He said he had instructed each unit to further study options and examine ways fo reducing risks and considering other countries that could become exempt from visas.
Despite only having taken effect in November of 2017, the number of visitors from the Philippines increased from 217,475 in 2016 to 290,784 in 2017, according to statistics from the Taiwan Tourism Bureau. Visitors from Thailand also increased from 190,640 in 2016 to 292,534 in 2017.
As part of its New Southbound Policy, MOFA has been seeking to attract more tourists from Southeast Asian countries. In August of 2016, visa-free access was granted to citizens of Thailand and Brunei, and in April of 2017, it was extended to July of this year.