THE GOVERNMENT of Taiwan is requesting that the Philippines reciprocate by granting visa-free privileges to visitors from Taiwan.
Alfred Y.H. Wang, director for the Economic Division of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in the Philippines (TECOP), said he has been seeking reciprocal visa-free status but negotiations with the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) are still ongoing.
“We wish the Philippine side will also give us similar treatment on the visa-waiver program. Until now we’re still in discussions,” Mr. Wang told reporters at a media roundtable in Manila on Monday.
“They always say they are starting,” he said, noting that he respects the Philippine decision-making formalities “but we need reciprocal treatment.”
TECOP recently extended the 14-day visa-free program for Filipino visitors by another year. Initially intended as a nine-month trial, the program was extended to July 2019 after Taiwan received a record number of Filipino tourist arrivals last year.
MECO was asked for comment yesterday but had not responded at deadline time.
On its website, TECOP said Filipino visitors to Taiwan hit 291,000 in 2017, up 68.74%.
With the extension of the visa waiver policy, TECOP’s Mr. Wang said: “It would be reasonable to expect tremendous growth” in tourist arrivals this year,” and expressed the hope that 2018 levels will “double or triple” the 2017 performance.
Taiwan’s efforts to boost Filipino arrivals include promoting medical tourism.
On Monday the 2018 Taiwan Healthcare Industry Trade Meeting, organized by the Taiwan External Trade Development Council kicked off at the Manila Hotel.
Taiwan offers world-class medical services at the fraction of the cost for equivalent treatment in the developed world, and is hoping to generate more medical business from Southeast Asia. — Janina C. Lim