Taiwan to expand visa privileges for Southeast Asian visitors
Taipei, April 12 (CNA) Taiwan will expand visa privileges for visitors from Thailand, Brunei and the Philippines and streamline the visa application process for visitors from other Southeast Asian and South Asian countries, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Wednesday.
The decision to make travel to Taiwan easier for citizens from those nations, which came after a cross-agency meeting two days earlier, aims to promote the country's "New Southbound Policy," the ministry said in a statement.
Among the new measures to be implemented from June 1, the ministry said the one-year trial period for allowing Thai and Brunei citizens visa-exempt stays in Taiwan of up to 30 days will be extended one more year to July 31, 2018.
Noting the start of the trial run in August 2016, the ministry said that visitors from Thailand and Brunei to Taiwan saw a year-on-year increase of 57.26 percent and 52 percent, respectively, in 2016.
Another new measure will be to offer visa-free treatment to visitors from the Philippines on a one-year trial basis, the ministry said, without providing further details.
Meanwhile, Taiwan will grant visitors from India, Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos visa-free treatment on a "conditional" basis, it said.
They will be able to apply for a travel permit through the website of the Ministry of the Interior if they have been issued a visa by Taiwan within the past 10 years, it said.
Citizens from Sri Lanka and Bhutan will also be allowed to apply for a tourist visa to Taiwan, the ministry said.
Businesspeople from India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Pakistan will be able to apply for an e-visa to Taiwan if they obtain recommendations from branch offices of the Taiwan External Trade Development Council in those countries, it added.
The new measures come after Taiwan streamlined the visa process for visitors from Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states and India last August.
Those measures included offering visa-free treatment to Thai and Brunei citizens and e-visas to Philippine visitors and issuing multiple-entry visas valid for two years to people from ASEAN countries.
The measures have boosted visits to Taiwan and there have been few cases of visa violations, the government said, leading it to further streamline the visa process to promote tourism and business ties with the region, according to the ministry.(Courtesy of CNA)