TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Visa-free entry for citizens from the Philippines, Thailand, and Brunei is going to be extended for one year, announced the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) in a press release on July 12.
After it was determined at an inter-ministerial meeting held by MOFA in June 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, Minister without Portfolio Chang Ching-sen (張景森) on June 28 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.
Citizens of the Philippines, Thailand and Brunei are eligible for visa-free entry on the condition the applicants can provide the following:
1. Standard passport valid for at least six months.
2. Confirmed return plane or boat ticket, or a confirmed plane or boat ticket, along with a valid visa, for an onward destination.
3. Hotel reservation or accommodation address, contact information and proof of adequate finances.
4. A clean criminal record, as verified at immigration on arrival at an airport or seaport in Taiwan.
Expressing 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 of 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.
According to the Taiwan Tourism Bureau, total visitors from all countries included in the New Southbound Policy increased from 1,789,503 in 2016 to 2,284,382, representing an increase of 27.65 percent. In its press release, MOFA pointed out these results as demonstrating the effectiveness of the new visa-free policy.