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Thailand and Brunei granted visa-free access to Taiwan

2016/07/15 21:41:35

CNA file photo

Taipei, July 15 (CNA) Citizens of Thailand and Brunei will be granted visa-free access to Taiwan starting on Aug. 1, according to a measure approved by the Cabinet on Friday.

The measure, which will allow Thai and Brunei nationals visa-exempt stays of up to 30 days, will be implemented on a trial basis for a period of one year, said Cabinet spokesman Tung Chen-yuan (童振源).

Nationals of Cambodia, the Philippines, India, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam who have received visas to Australia, Canada, the Schengen area, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, the United Kingdom or the United States over the past 10 years, will also be allowed to enter Taiwan visa-free after registering on the internet, Tung said.

The Cabinet said it hoped the new visa-free initiative would boost the number of visitors from Southeast Asia by 20 percent, or about 280,000 visitors, in 2016, from the 1.43 million people from the region who visited Taiwan in 2015.

Those additional visitors are expected to inject an extra NT$13 billion (US$407 million) into the domestic economy, according to the Ministry of Transportation and Communications.

In the first five months of 2016, visitor arrivals from Southeast Asian countries were already up 11.09 percent year-on-year at 613,808.

Malaysia and Singapore, whose citizens already have 30-day visa-free access to Taiwan, accounted for about 54 percent of the region's visitors in the January to May period.

Taiwan is hoping that visa-free treatment for citizens of Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam, which contribute a total of nearly 590,000 visitors to the country last year, will pay handsome dividends.

Visitor growth from Thailand is already soaring, up 87.55 percent in the first five months of 2016 after rising nearing 19 percent in 2015.

Besides visa-free treatment, the government plans to increase the number of tour guides catering to this group of travelers, create a more Muslim-friendly environment and increase the promotional budget to promote Taiwan tourism in Southeast Asia.

The campaign is part of President Tsai Ing-wen's (蔡英文) "new southbound" policy, designed to bolster Taiwan's economic ties with Southeast Asian countries and India.

(By Tang Pei-chun and Kuo Chung-han)