THAI NATIONALS can still visit Taiwan without a visa despite reports that the number of visa-free entries per year would be slashed after some Thai nationals were found to be involved in the sex trade there.
The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Bangkok has not received any notice about changes to the visa-free programme from Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, an official said.
Thai nationals had been allowed 30-days visa-free entry into Taiwan from last year.
On July 12, Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced it was extending its trial of visa-free entry for nationals from Thailand, Brunei and the Philippines for another year, but the number of days will be reduced to 14. The trial will continue from August 1 through July 31, 2019.
This measure under Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy aims to attract more tourists and businesspeople.
Visitors involved in sex trade
On Saturday, the online newspaper Taiwan News reported that Taiwan was planning to slash visa-free entry for Thai, Philippine and Brunei visitors to twice a year from the existing six entries, after finding many Southeast Asian visitors were involved in the sex trade during their multiple trips to Taiwan.
This visa-free policy has helped boost Taiwan’s tourism industry, bringing 410,000 visitors from Thailand, Brunei and the Philippines over the past two years. The number of tourists from Thailand and the Philippines grew by 95 per cent and 48.5 per cent, respectively, during that period.
But many visitors from the three countries were also found to have engaged in prostitution during their stay in Taiwan.
In April, a Thai national was arrested for engaging in prostitution during her many trips on a tourism visa to Taiwan, the Taiwan News reported, quoting local police.
Police found that since October last year, the woman had visited Taiwan five times on the pretence of “sightseeing”, but had in fact engaged in the sex trade, the report said.
To address this issue, the Taiwan News said Taiwan had cut each visa-free stay to two weeks, and is thinking about slashing visa-free visits from six times a year to twice a year. Also, high-risk individuals will be targeted with inspection and follow-up measures, the online newspaper reported.
Recently, South Korea is also reportedly reviewing its visa-free policy for Thai nationals after many people pretending to be tourists entered the country to work illegally.