Manila, People and tourism-related sectors in Taiwan and the Philippines are calling on the Taiwan government to extend its visa-free treatment of Filipinos, which ends at the end of July.
Taiwan Representative to the Philippines Michael Peiyung Hsu told Taiwanese business leaders in the country at a meeting a few days ago that his office has been inundated with emails from Filipinos urging Taiwan to extend the visa-free program.
Eva Air, China Airlines and Philippine Airlines are among industry players hoping for an extension of the program, Hsu revealed.
The Philippines Travel Agencies Association (PTAA) and the Philippine Tour Operators Association (PHILTOA) also called on the Taiwan Representative Office to convey the widespread support for the program, it was said.
A 14-day visa-free program for Filipinos was implemented in November 2017 in line with Taiwan government's "New South Bound Policy" and was extended for one year after the trial period ended on July 31, 2018.
Earlier this month, Philippine Dental Association President Arleen Reyes thanked Taiwan for the visa-free privilege during a courtesy call to Taiwan's representative office in Manila.
The convenience brought by the visa-free treatment has encouraged many Filipinos to visit Taiwan, said Reyes, suggesting the policy should be continued.
During the first two months of 2019, 72,803 Filipino tourists visited Taiwan, a 31.37 percent increase compared with the same period one year ago, according to data from Taiwan's Tourism Bureau.
Most Filipinos visiting Taiwan are young and not that well off, who usually plan their trips three to four months in advance to save on plane fares, a Taiwanese airline officer in Manila who requested anonymity told CNA.
The source predicted a decline in ticket sales in coming months if the future of the visa-free program remains uncertain. He further suggested that potential visitors might turn to other Southeast Asian countries or even Australia instead of Taiwan.
Meanwhile, Jay Lee a Taiwanese who teaches Chinese language in Manila, said many of his student had visited Taiwan over the past two years, adding "the visa-free treatment really made a difference."
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel