Extension of visa-free privilege for Filipinos in Taiwan still under study
Marje Pelayo • June 12, 2019 • 1367
TAIWAN – Extension of visa-free treatment to Philippine passport holders is still under study by Taiwan’s Executive Yuan.
On Monday (June 10), Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said the island state is expected to extend visa-privileges to citizens of four countries — the Philippines, Brunei, Thailand and Russia — originally set to expire on July 31, 2019.
According to MOFA, the decision will depend on the result of the assessment on the program’s effectiveness throughout the trial year.
“The final decision will be announced by the Executive Yuan in due time,” it said.
Under the visa-free program, foreign nationals from the said four countries are allowed to enter Taiwan without visa and stay in the island for up to 14 days.
The relaxed visa system was launched by the Taiwan government in an effort to boost the number of tourist arrivals after a decline in tourists from mainland China.
According to the latest figure from Taiwan’s Tourism Bureau, tourist arrivals from the Philippines increased by 12.46 percent in the first four months of 2019 from a year earlier.
Starved of the travel experience during the coronavirus lockdown? One airport in Taiwan has the solution – a fake itinerary where you check in, go through passport control and security and even board the aircraft. You just never leave.
Taipei’s downtown Songshan airport on Thursday (July 2) began offering travellers the chance to do just that, with some 60 people hungry to get going, albeit to nowhere.
Around 7,000 people applied to take part, with the winners chosen at random. More fake flight experiences will take place in coming weeks.
The passengers got boarding passes, and proceeded through security and immigration before boarding an Airbus A330 of Taiwan’s largest carrier, China Airlines, where flight attendants chatted to them and explained coronavirus prevention methods.
The airport is using the event as a publicity opportunity to show off renovations it has completed while passengers have stayed away.
Songshan usually has flights to Tokyo, Seoul and several Chinese cities, and is also an important domestic hub.
Taiwan has emerged relatively unscathed from the pandemic thanks to early and effective prevention steps, but has largely closed its borders since mid-March and advised its citizens against all overseas travel unless absolutely necessary.
While a handful of international flights have continued, passenger numbers plummeted almost 64 percent in the first five months of 2020 compared with the same period last year, according to the government.
Still, in one bright spot, internal travel is booming.
Taiwan’s two main domestic carriers – China Airlines unit Mandarin Airlines and Eva Air’s Uni Air – have added extra capacity over the summer to Taiwan’s sun-soaked offshore islands and rugged east coast. (Reuters)
(Production: Ann Wang, Martin Pollard, Ben Blanchard)
SOUTH KOREA — The Philippine Embassy in Seoul assisted a total of 148 passengers who boarded the special Korean Air flight KE 623 to Manila, Sunday afternoon (June 7).
All 148 Filipinos were stranded in South Korea due to intermittent schedules and frequent cancellations of international flights to Manila brought about by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
The special flight was arranged by the Philippine Embassy in Seoul and was made possible through the support of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Transportation (DOTr), Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), Manila International Airport Authorities (MIAA), and the Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19, in cooperation with Korean Air.
“Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the Embassy has assisted 270 stranded Filipinos in Korea, both residents and transiting passengers at Incheon International Airport,” said Charge d’affaires Christian de Jesus.
“The special flight was initiated by the Embassy following our survey of Filipinos in Korea who were looking for a special passenger flight. Many have already finished their employment contracts but could not go home because their flight bookings have been cancelled for as many as three to six times,” he added.
CDA de Jesus assures that the Embassy will continue to respond to the needs of Filipinos in Korea whose lives and employment are affected by the pandemic.
After weeks of being stranded in Japan due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, a total of 160 Filipinos are finally sent home on Monday (June 1).
The 160 Filipino tourists, workers, and students departed from Narita International Airport via a chartered flight mounted by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), through the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo.
On the department’s Facebook post, Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs, Atty. Sarah Lou Y. Arriola, said that “the repatriation of distressed Filipinos abroad is firm commitment of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte which is dutifully being implemented by the Department of Foreign Affairs.”
Philippine Ambassador to Japan, Jose C. Laurel V assured the repatriates that the Philippine government will continue to provide assistance to Filipinos abroad.
According to the DFA, the said repatriated Filipinos will undergo COVID testing and hotel quarantine to wait out the results of their test. –AAC
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