From once stormy relations following the shooting of Taiwanese fisherman by a Philippine Coast guard patrol in 2013,the bilateral relationship between the Republic of China and southern neighbor the Philippines reached a new high in 2017, with the island nation granting visa free entry for Filipinos, significantly pushing tourist arrivals between the two countries.
This visa-exemption program for Filipinos launched in November 2017 is officially extended until July 31, 2019, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) announced Thursday in Manila, in a move seen to encourage more tourism and trade with the Philippines, seen by many as a big market for Taiwan’s tourism and high value exports such as machinery.
"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.
The number of Taipei and Manila's two-way visitors hit a record high in 2017 with Filipino travelers going to Taiwan reaching 290,784 and the Taiwanese visitors to the Philippines hitting 236,777, registering more than 50% growth from 2016. In a letter to ABS CBN, the TECO office in Manila reported that Taiwan's bilateral trade with the Philippines incrased In 2017, to $11.97 billion, as compared to $10.87 billion in 2016. (http://news.abs-cbn.com/focus/07/06/18/does-taiwan-have-a-love-hate-relationship-with-the-philippines)
Latest tourism statistics show that 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.
In a related development , Philippine low cost carrier Cebu Pacific showcased its Manila to Taipei flights at PHP1,638 and Taipei to Manila fares at PHP2,069. Air Asia also announced the launch of its thrice weekly late afternoon flights from Clark to Taipei. The airline already has direct regular flights to Taipei from Manila and Cebu.
(with reports from PNA)