MANILA -- Filipino tourist arrivals to Taiwan from January to May this year increased by 60 percent following the implementation of a trial visa-free treatment for the Philippines, a Taiwanese official said Tuesday.
Yu-Shin Chen, deputy commissioner of Taipei City said at least 290,784 Filipinos visited Taiwan in 2017, with 90 percent of the number touring the Taiwanese capital Taipei.
For the first five months of 2018, at least 190,791 Filipinos visited Taiwan, a 60.36-percent growth from the same period last year.
"Taiwan is very close to the Philippines, it will only take two hour flight. (We want to attract Filipinos because) a lot of people here are friendly and kind just like (the) Taiwanese," Yu said in an interview.
The official was in the Philippines to promote Taiwan Department of Information and Tourism's FUN Taipei 2018 campaign, showcasing the food and destinations of the largest city in Taiwan.
During the product launch, its partner in FUN Taipei's promotion Filipino-Canadian YouTube star Mikey Bustos debuted his latest music video featuring how a holiday can be spent in the city.
The Department of Information and Tourism also introduced the 24-hour non-stop eating tour provided by various food and beverage service providers from Taiwan.
They brought to spotlight some of Taipei's popular dishes from breakfast chain My Warm Day, hot pot Ma La, pastry maker Sunmerry, Smoothie House, KQ Tea, Amba Hotels, Asha Foods and Fried Chicken Master, as well as other travel-related services such as the Taipei’s double-decker sightseeing bus and posh hotel chain.
For 2018, Yu said Taiwan targets to attract 350,000 travelers from the Philippines.
"We estimate over 350,000 travelers because now we already extended the visa-free policy," she added.
Visa-free extension for PH not yet final
Earlier reports said Taiwan extended its visa-free treatment to three countries, which includes the Philippines.
Taiwan's trial visa-free travel for Filipinos, launched in November 2017, was supposed to end in July 2018. Reports, however, quoted Chang Ching-sen, minister without portfolio, confirming the extension until July 2019.
Asked for comment, Minister James Chu of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Manila said there is no official announcement from their end yet as the policy is still under review.
"(On) the visa-free treatment starting from November last year, the original policy is only (for) trial basis, that means the government will review whether this policy is good," he told reporters during the same event. (PNA)