MANILA -- The new Taiwan (ROC) representative in Manila seeks to further enhance the tourism ties between Taiwan and the Philippines as Filipino tourist arrivals to Taipei reached a record high in 2018.

"In line with President Tsai Ing-Wen’s 'New Southbound Policy', the Philippines has become a top priority partner in terms of strengthening Taiwan’s relationship with its neighboring Asian countries," said Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) Representative Michael Peiyung Hsu at the 2018 Taiwan Tourism Workshop in Manila.

"With the implementation of the visa-free policy for Filipinos last November, and the possibility of extending the said policy, my government believes that Taiwan and the Philippines can be the best partners. By our joint efforts, we are capable of achieving more than we can imagine," he added.

Hsu succeeded former TECO Representative Gary Song-Huann Lin, who officially ended his tour of duty last Thursday.

The Taiwanese official said Filipinos visiting Taiwan reached 290,784 in 2017, posting a 68.59 percent increase compared to the number in 2016.

On the other hand, Taiwan is currently the Philippines’ 6th top tourist source market with over 60,000 Taiwanese visitors to the Philippines during the first three months of 2018.

"These figures show the booming of our two-way tourism industry, and more importantly, the growing understanding of each other’s nation and culture," he said.

During his speech, Hsu cited Taiwan's famous attractions such as the Taipei 101 and the National Palace Museum, as well as the wide variety of Taiwanese cuisines, its efficient transportation systems, culture, and the "warm Taiwanese hospitality," which he said makes Taiwan an attractive tourist destination for Filipinos.

The tourism workshop held at the Diamond Hotel in Manila was an introduction to Filipino tour operators before the Travel Expo 2018 on July 5 at the SMX Convention Center.

Cebu Pacific showcased its Manila to Taipei flights at PHP1,638 and Taipei to Manila fares at PHP2,069.

On the other hand, several Taiwanese travel agencies engaged their Filipino counterparts to promote affordable tour packages with customizable itineraries that may be priced for as low as USD195 or around PHP10,413 for a five-day accommodation and tours without airfare.

One of the program's participants, Taiwan Tourism Bureau, showcased a 10-day "cycling-around-the-island" itinerary, with the route starting in Taipei, which proceeds west of the island back to the main city.

Meanwhile, the Taiwan Leisure Farms Development Association sought to attract Filipino travel agencies to try out their "agritourism" product that aims to make use of Taiwan's idyllic landscape, natural ecology and environmental resources.

Food companies such as the famous Taiwanese nougat makers Sugar & Spice and manufacturers of Taipei's popular pineapple cakes also joined the Taiwanese delegation. (PNA)