New Southbound Policy boosts tourist numbers

The number of travelers arriving in Taiwan from countries covered by the New Southbound Policy surged 42.8 percent year on year in January, according to the Office of Trade Negotiations under the Executive Yuan March 15, reflecting the effectiveness of the government initiative in expanding its tourism source markets.

One of the key components of President Tsai Ing-wen's national development strategy, the New Southbound Policy seeks to deepen agricultural, business, cultural, education, trade and tourism links with Association of Southeast Asian Nations member states, six South Asian countries, Australia and New Zealand.

According to statistics compiled by the Tourism Bureau under the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, 68,000 visitors arrived in January from the 18 countries targeted by the initiative. This is the highest figure for the month in the past four years, the trade office said.

The government attributes the increase to new regulations granting e-visa or visa-free entry to travelers from many nations in Southeast Asia.

A breakdown of the statistics shows Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam were the largest sources of these visitors from the region, with Thailand posting a record growth of 170 percent as a result of measures such as a visa simplification program and 30-day visa-free entry. The Philippines, Laos, India, Indonesia, Myanmar and Vietnam all registered at least 50 percent growth.

Starting from March this year, the government will examine the feasibility of granting visa-free entry to nationals from countries in Southeast Asia such as Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar and the Philippines, the trade office said. It added that with the successful implementation of the New Southbound Policy, visa simplification measures as well as substantial economic growth in Southeast Asia, visitor numbers from the region are likely to continue growing.

Source: Taiwan Today