Taiwan mulls visa waivers for Gulf countries

Proposal an effort to replace revenue lost from Chinese ban on independent travel to Taiwan

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Taipei Grand Mosque (Travel Taipei photo)

Taipei Grand Mosque (Travel Taipei photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Taiwan is considering implementing tourism incentives for visitors from the Persian Gulf as part of its effort to offset the impact of the Chinese ban on solo travel to the island.

In a Cabinet meeting on Thursday (Aug. 24), the Taipei City Government proposed that the island expand the visa waiver program to include the oil-rich countries. Tourists from the region are perceived as high-spending customers and thus have the potential to help drive local tourism, reported the Central News Agency.

The proposal, along with suggestions to extend the eligibility of Taiwan’s winter travel subsidy program for international visitors, will be taken into consideration by the Cabinet, said the Ministry of the Foreign Affairs (MOFA).

According to MOFA spokesperson Joanne Ou (歐江安), passport holders of six Gulf countries are currently granted e-visa treatment, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Kuwait. She acknowledged the unlocked tourism potential offered by Middle Eastern visitors.

Taiwan has emerged as the third most Muslim-friendly country outside of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in a survey released by the Mastercard-Crescent Rating Global Muslim Travel Index 2019. In addition, a second Taipei hospital received Halal certification this week.