MOFA striving for visa-free travel to Thailand

Taipei, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) will continue to strive for more convenient entry to Thailand, with the goal of achieving visa-free travel, a MOFA official said Thursday.

Chang Chun-yu (???), deputy head of MOFA's Department of East Asia and Pacific Affairs, said at a press conference that the ministry's focus is on how to achieve more convenient travel to Thailand.

The ministry is keeping in touch with the Thai authorities to attain "more favorable treatment, with achieving visa-free travel as our ultimate goal," Chang said.

Chang voiced the intention in response to a plan retracted Wednesday by Thailand's representative office in Taiwan to limit visa applications for individual travelers by up to a maximum of 100 per day and outsource its visa application service for group travel to a privately run visa processing center from Oct. 1.

At the new center, which will be run by VFS Global, visa applicants would have to pay a higher cost of NT$1,670 (US$54.42) each, which is NT$470 higher than the cost of applications processed at the Thailand Trade and Economic Office Taipei (TTEO).

The TTEO quickly retracted the move because tourism business representatives complained that Taiwan has given visa-free entry to Thai nationals for two years but instead of reciprocating, the Thai government has raised the cost of visa applications for Taiwanese

nationals.

As a result, the TTEO said in a statement that it will continue to issue visas for individual and group travel to Thailand and will keep the cost at NT$1,200 per applicant at its office, but its services will be supplemented by two new private centers with effect from October, albeit for the additional cost.

According to Taiwan Tourism Bureau statistics, there were 532,787 Taiwanese travelers to Thailand in 2016 and 553,804 in 2017.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel