VISA-FREE ENTRY will attract more Taiwanese tourists and investors to Thailand, says Chen-Yuan Tung, a representative of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Thailand.
There were 370,559 Taiwanese visitors to Thailand between January to August this year, a drop of 3.7 per cent.
“This year the number decreased a little bit,” Chen-Yuan told The Nation. “We really hope the Thai government would consider granting a visa-free programme for Taiwanese visitors.”
In stark contrast ,Thai tourists visiting Taiwan during the same period this year were up 73 per cent to 182,840 people. It was because Taiwan has granted visa waiver status for Thailand, he said. The programme is in place until July 31 next year.
Chen-Yuan believes that visa-free status had contributed to the rising number of Thai tourists visiting Taiwan during 2016-2017.
Thailand’s lack of reciprocity seems to contrast with the trend among other nations.
Taiwan has already obtained visa-waiver status from 124 countries, including the Schengen region, United Kingdom, Ireland, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand. Among Asean countries, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia have also granted a visa waver to Taiwan, according to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office.
Chen-Yuan said Taiwan’s contribution to Thailand’s tourism sector was Bt18.6 billion last year.
The number of Thai tourists visiting Taiwan from August to December 2016 after the waiver was announced jumped 88 per cent compared with the same period in 2015.
Chen-Yuan said he expects that granting a visa waiver to Taiwan would also encourage more Taiwanese to invest in the Eastern Economic Corridor project initiated by the Thai government. Taiwanese investors have shown their strong interest in investment opportunities in high technology industries, including biotechnology, the Internet of things (IoT), virtual reality and augmented reality, he said.
Since May last year, Taiwan has aggressively promoted a New Southbound policy, aimed at cementing closer economic and cultural relations with Asean and South Asia countries and also Australia. Taiwan’s move demonstrates that it also wants to play a greater role in the region to balance China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
Chen-Yuan hosted the celebration of Taiwan’s National Day on October 10 in Bangkok.
In delivering her National Day address to the nation, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen, emphasised her government’s commitment to reform, safeguarding Taiwan’s democracy and freedom, and finding Taiwan’s role in the new international order.