TAIWAN has relaxed visa regulations and waived visa fees for high-end tour groups hailing from its five new source markets, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines and India, in hopes of enouraging arrival growth.
To qualify for the new visa policy which will be in place from November 1 this year until December 31, 2016, the group tours must be organised by designated travel agencies in the respective countries.
Taiwan Tourism Bureau, International Affairs Division Section Chief, Kathy Yuan, explained that with the simplified procedure, travellers from the five markets will no longer need to provide proof of occupation and supporting financial documents.
Travel agents TTG Asia e-Daily spoke to at the annual Taipei International Travel Fair, which ends today, said they welcome the move.
Taipei-based South East Travel Service, retail services, supervisor, Jimmy Chang, said this will bring both time and monetary savings for Indonesians who had to pay about NT$1,000 (US$30.60) for a visa-on-arrival.
Turmerica India, which sends MICE and FIT traffic to Taiwan, is now encouraged to market the destination for family groups especially those that have already visited China and South-east Asia and are looking for somewhere fresh.
The company’s head of international holiday, Vivek Pandey, said application for individual visas took four days to process and involved “a lot of formality like bank statements”, which competing destinations like Hong Kong and Macau did not require.
F5 Vietnam Travel, director Hoang Thi Lien, pointed out that South Korea and Japan – popular destinations among Vietnamese travellers – charged only US$20 and US$30 respectively for a travel visa while Taiwan’s was a pricier US$50.
Hoang was however quick to add that “visa fees are not a major deterrent for visitors”.
“The key (is for Taiwan to highlight) its unique specialties to provide a reason for Vietnamese to (visit).”
Meanwhile, Taiwan government statistics indicated a three per cent dip in Indonesian arrivals to 131,596 across the first nine months of 2015, while the Philippines and Thailand saw a 0.4 per cent and 12.3 per cent growth over the same period in 2014.