TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The government is reconsidering extending visa waivers for visitors from the Philippines, Thailand, Russia, and Brunei once every three years instead of yearly, a government member said Friday (August 30).
However, at a meeting on Thursday (August 29), it was decided that visa waivers for citizens of Indonesia and Vietnam were still off the table because too many of those nationals have overstayed their visa, Minister without Portfolio Chang Jing-sen (張景森) said.
The meeting between representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Transportation and Communications mainly discussed ideas to promote tourism in the wake of China’s ban on individual travelers to Taiwan, which went into effect August 1.
The total number of visitors from China fell to 2.69 million last year and is likely to dip further to between 1.4 and 1.6 million in 2020, the Central News Agency quoted Chang as saying. The minister described the fall in Chinese arrivals as the start of a transformation of Taiwan’s tourism sector, a process expected to be completed in 2024, when the island will no longer be primarily reliant on the Chinese tourists.
Even though Vietnamese and Indonesian visitors were unlikely to receive visa waivers soon, Chang still said that visa procedures for groups from those countries might be simplified, shortening the application process by two weeks. He also suggested Taiwan might follow Japan’s example and raise fines for overstayers.
The Taipei City Government’s proposal to give visa waivers to visitors from certain Middle Eastern countries, such as Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, was still under consideration, Chang said.