More Pinoys going to Taiwan as tourists
(The Philippine Star) - January 8, 2017 - 12:00am

TAIPEI – More Filipinos are discovering Taiwan, the Philippines’ closest neighbor to the north.

The third highest number of tourists in Taiwan from January to September came from the Philippines, said Eric Lin, director of the international affairs division of the tourism bureau of Taiwan’s Ministry of Transportation and Communications.

Thailand ranked first; Vietnam, second and Indonesia, fourth.

Lin said visitors from countries belonging to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) comprised 12 percent of tourists in Taiwan at 1.43 million in the past nine months, after China with 4.8 million; Japan, 1.6 million and Hong Kong, 1.5 million.

Tourists from the Philippines increased by 15.89 percent or 118,989 from January to September.

“It’s the first time in many years that we have more visitors from the ASEAN,” Lin said, noting that tourists from mainland China, who used to be the largest tourism source market of Taiwan, “dropped a lot.”

With more airlines operating flights between the Philippines and Taiwan, Lin said they expect more Filipinos to visit. He said Air Asia started daily flights between Manila and Taipei and thrice a week between Cebu and Taipei last month.

A surge in tourist arrivals from the Philippines is seen with the easing of visa requirements under the Taiwanese government’s New Southbound policy. Wooing tourists is a priority under the policy, which seeks to enhance relations with Southeast and South Asian countries as well as Australia and New Zealand in the areas of human resources, industry, investment, education, culture, tourism and agriculture.

Since September, citizens of India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos with visas or resident cards that are valid or expired less than 10 years from Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Schengen, the United Kingdom and the United States need not apply for a visa to travel to Taiwan. 

Emerging middle class

Lin said the new visa rules target “emerging middle class” tourists.

Aside from its top attractions, including the world’s eighth tallest building Taipei 101, leisure farms, temples, museums as well as cultural and amusement parks, Taiwan is promoting its traditional culture and cuisine.

Taiwan is one the most popular destinations for Muslim travelers with more restaurants given halal certification, Lin noted.

He said Taiwan is also another shopping paradise, noting that their large shopping malls and department stores offer competitive prices compared to Hong Kong and other known shopping destinations.

Night markets, now umbering around 300 across the country, are must-visits not only for bargain finds, but also for scrumptious delicacies, Lin said.

Lin said they are also making sure that tourists feel safe. “Taiwan is the second most safe country in the world second to Japan... All of Taiwan is safe not only in Taipei... It’s so convenient for travelers here,” he said. Tess Bedico

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