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Taiwan set to begin visa-free trial for the Philippines (update)

2017/10/16 18:34:25

Taipei, Oct. 16 (CNA) Taiwan will begin a trial run next month of a program offering Philippine nationals visa-free entry to the country for up to 14 days, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) announced Monday.

"This trial is being done to attract Philippine visitors to Taiwan for tourism and business purposes, as well as to increase people-to-people exchanges between the countries," MOFA said in a statement.

Philippine citizens must hold a passport with at least six months of validity, hold a confirmed return plane or boat ticket, and have no criminal record before they can apply to enter Taiwan visa-free when the trial period begins on Nov. 1, the MOFA said.

They will also be required to fill out an arrival card and provide immigration officials at the port of entry with proof of hotel reservations or an address and contact details for where they will be staying in Taiwan, the ministry said.

The trial program will run until July 31, 2018, and it will be reviewed to see if the visa-free privileges should be further extended.

The government has been criticized for giving Filipinos visa-free entry while failing to secure the same privileges for Taiwanese nationals traveling to the Philippines, and it urged Manila to reciprocate with visa-free treatment for Taiwanese citizens, the ministry said.

According to the MOFA, the decision to launch the trial run was made on Sept. 15 during a meeting of representatives of government agencies dealing with national security, police administration, investigation, immigration, tourism, and the economy.

In a statement from the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) in Taipei, Angelito T. Banayo, chairman and resident representative of MECO, welcomed the MOFA's decision, saying it should "generate additional incentives for more Filipinos to come and visit this beautiful island."

Filipinos made a total of 161,303 visits to Taiwan between January and July this year, a year-on-year increase of 73.51 percent over the 92,967 visits made in 2016, according to statistics provided by the National Immigration Agency.

(By Joseph Yeh and Kuan-lin Liu)