AFTER it extended its visa-free privilege to Filipinos until July 2020, the Taiwan Tourism Bureau targets to attract half a million more this 2019.
Taiwan Tourism Bureau Kuala Lumpur Office director Abe Chou said Filipinos are Taiwan’s second biggest tourism market in Southeast Asia after Malaysia.
In an interview during the Taiwan Tourism Workshop in Cebu Wednesday, July 10, 2019, Chou said there were 290,784 Filipinos who visited Taiwan in 2017. Last year, the figures rose more than 40 percent or 419,105 Filipino tourists.
Taiwan first implemented its visa-free policy from Nov. 1, 2017 to July 31,2018 for a duration of 14 days. It stretched the visa extension to July 31, 2019 and recently, it extended the privilege until July 31, 2020.
“Since the extension of the visa rules, we are highly concerned about the market gross potential of the Philippines. I think being visa-free is very important and more convenient for the Filipinos,” he said.
Chou also attributed the spike in arrival of Filipino tourists to Taiwan to the direct flights mounted by airline companies like AirAsia, Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines, Eva Air and Tiger Air that make the destination accessible.
“Since Taiwan is in the heart of Asia, it is easy to travel there from many different cities, and flights from Cebu to Taipei are also very important which is less than three hours,” he said.
Cebu remains one of the country’s high potential markets because of proximity and accessibility.
“Many Taiwanese come to Cebu for business and leisure,” said Chou. Filipinos, he noted, would often stay in Taiwan for four to five days, mostly in Taipei, the country’s capital.
With the visa-free extension, Chou said they expect the arrivals to spread to the countryside.
He said they don’t only target the first-time tourists but also frequent travelers who want to explore other equally interesting cities and attractions in Taiwan like Taichung and Kaohsiung.
Starting Aug. 1, AirAsia Philippines will fly thrice weekly (Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday) from Cebu to Kaohsiung and Clark to Kaohsiung.
“The Philippines continues to be one of the top holiday destinations for Taiwanese. As the only Philippine airline to connect Cebu and Clark directly to Kaohsiung, we are pleased to be able to contribute to Philippine tourism and bring Cebuanos and Kapampangans closer to southern Taiwan as well,” said AirAsia Philippines president and chief executive officer Dexter Comendador, in a statement.
Kaohsiung, known as the Harbour City, is famous for its river parks, cultural activities and culinary scene.
Taiwan’s second-largest city is also a shopping and food paradise, offering up lively night markets and large malls selling a variety of goods and quirky souvenirs, as well as some of the best Taiwanese dishes like mud volcano chicken, beef noodles and pan-fried dumplings. (JOB with KOC)