IN a bid to foster mutual benefits, Taiwan will allow visa-free entry to visitors from the Philippines, a spokesman for the island’s cabinet said on Thursday. The policy will come into effect in October or November.
Currently, Taiwan does not have formal diplomatic relations with the Philippines, which recognizes the “one China” policy under which Manila acknowledges the Chinese position that there is only one China and Taiwan is part of it.
Hsu Kong-yung, the spokesman of Taiwan‘s executive yuan, or Cabinet, said at a press conference: “After we open up the visa-free arrangements, in view of equal mutual benefits, we also hope they will make visa-free arrangements with Taiwan.”
The Travel Agent Association of the Republic of China, Taiwan said it expected the visa-waiver program to attract 33 percent more Philippine visitors to Taiwan next year and boost tourism revenue by TWD$2 billion (US$65.8 million). Tourism revenue from Filipino tourists is expected to hit TWD7 billion (US$230 million) by year-end.
Taiwan already has visa-free arrangements with Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore. The government is continuing this year with a pilot scheme with Brunei and Thailand kicked off last year.
The Manila Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei (MECO) said that it welcomes the ministry’s plan for the visa waiver program, adding that it would respond to the friendly gesture by relaxing visa requirements for Taiwanese travelers in the Philippines.
It also called for Manila and Taipei to work closely together in other areas including combating cross-border crime.
MECO chairman Angelito Banayo said, “We all know that organized crime, specifically drug trafficking, knows no borders, which calls for closer coordination between the Philippine and Taiwan authorities.”
Additional reporting by Reuters