Taiwan extends visa-free privileges for Filipinos to July 2020

Marje Pelayo   •   July 3, 2019   •   2062

TAIPEI, Taiwan – Filipinos who wish to travel to Taiwan may still enjoy its visa-free program until next year.

On Tuesday (July 2), Taiwan announced its extension of visa-free privileges for citizens of four countries – the Philippines, Thailand, Brunei and Russia.

In a press release, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said the visa-free trial which started in July 2018 showed significant growth in the number of tourist arrivals from the said countries.

Thus, the decision was reached during a cross-ministerial meeting of concerned government units who unanimously agreed to extend the program to another year or to July 31, 2020.

According to the Tourism Bureau, the visa-free program yielded a total of 2.6 million visits to the country in 2018 from nationals of 18 New Southbound Policy partner nations, most of which are members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) including Thailand, Brunei and the Philippines.

Under the program, foreign nationals from the said countries need not secure a visa prior to their entry to Taiwan and may enjoy their visit for stays of up to 14 days.

Taiwan reports 4 of 5 new COVID-19 cases came from the Philippines

Marje Pelayo   •   July 29, 2020

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) reported on Tuesday (July 28) that it has recorded five new cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) among travelers who arrived in the country on Sunday (July 26).

This brings the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Taiwan to 467 since the start of the pandemic early this year. 

Out of 467 positive cases, 21 are imported so far.

Of the five new cases, all took the same flight on July 26, four were from the Philippines and one returned from Hong Kong, according to CECC.

The CECC identified the patients as follows:

  • Male (over 50y/o)
    • He visited the Philippines for work in March. He returned to Taiwan on July 26 with a slightly elevated temperature at the airport. After the test, he was confirmed positive on July 28.
  • Male (over 30y/o)
    • He visited the Philippines for work in January. He noticed abnormality in his sense of smell and taste and sought medical attention in the Philippines on June 16. He took a COVID-19 test the same day, but he tested negative.  He returned to Taiwan on July 26 where he voluntarily reported his previous symptoms to airport quarantine officers who then arranged his COVID-19 testing. His test yielded positive results and was confirmed on July 28.
  • Male/Female (both over 70y/o)
    • A couple in their 70s who traveled to the Philippines to visit their relatives in January. The two cases returned to Taiwan on July 26. The male patient was asymptomatic while the female patient reported her symptoms to airport quarantine officers before boarding and upon entry to Taiwan. After COVID-19 testing was undertaken, they were taken to a quarantine facility. They were confirmed positive on July 28.
  • Male (over 30y/o) 
    • He traveled to Hong Kong for work in January and returned to Taiwan on July 26. He voluntarily reported his symptoms to airport quarantine officers who then arranged his COVID-19 testing and he was confirmed positive on July 28. 

All five cases are currently in isolation in a hospital for medical treatment.

Taiwan extends trial visa-free entry for Filipinos

Marje Pelayo   •   July 24, 2020

FILE PHOTO: Taiwan’s national flags in Taipei, REUTERS/Pichi Chuang

MANILA, Philippines — The government of Taiwan has extended its trial visa-free entry for nationals of Brunei, the Philippines, Russia and Thailand to further promote its New Southbound Policy.

In a meeting with other related agencies, Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) decided to extend the visa-free entry for one year starting August 1 until July 31, 2021.

Likewise, the Project for Simplifying Visa Regulations for High-end Group Tourists from Southeast Asian Countries will continue for another year, lasting until December 31, 2021. 

The said adjustments to visa measures are based on previously existing policies, the MOFA stressed and “do not take precedence” over temporary border control measures put in place in response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Check in but go nowhere: Taiwan offers fake flights for travel-starved tourists

UNTV News   •   July 3, 2020

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)

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