Taiwan considers cutting visa-free travel to twice a year for Thailand, Philippines, Brunei visitors

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Taiwan mulls reducing the number of visa-free entries for citizens of Thailand, the Philippines and Brunei to two times year, down from currently six times. Particularly in the case of the two former countries, many young women have been found to abuse the visa-free entry to work illegally in Taiwan, including in prostitution.  Authorities did not specify what the particular problem with Brunei citizens was, though.

According to concerned minister Chang Jing Sen, there was a remarkable increase of 410,000 visitors from Thailand, the Philippines and Brunei as a result of the visa waiver program in the past two years. He said that the number of tourists from Thailand and the Philippines grew by 95 per cent and 48.5 per cent, respectively, as an annual average.

Taiwan media reported in April a female Thai national who had visited Taiwan multiple times to provide sex services in the country had tested positive for HIV, possibly infecting hundreds of clients, according to local police. They found that since October last year, the woman had visited Taiwan five times on the pretense of “sightseeing”, but had in fact engaged in the sex trade and was eventually deported.

To address the issue, the government has cut each visa-free stay to 14-15 days for citizens from the three countries. Also, “high-risk individuals” will be targeted in the strengthened inspection and follow-up measures.

The move comes after Thailand announced a new policy stipulating that Taiwanese people, who ironically need a visa (visa on arrival for tourists) to enter Thailand can only apply for visas via a single agency authorised by the Thai government which charges about 500 baht ($14) more than the present channels for granting entry.

This led to sharp protests by lawmakers in Taiwan, who attacked the one-sided nature of the current travel arrangements between the two countries. Thailand, as it often does, quickly removed to the new regulation after it faced the public criticism.

The problem of Thais engaging in illegal activities in visa-free countries is not confined to Taiwan, though. South Korea and Japan are also reportedly reviewing their visa-free policy for Thai nationals, after many people pretending to be tourists entered the country to work illegally, men mostly in construction and women in “massage parlours.”

According to travel agents, there are of course genuine Thai tourists to those countries, but very few who would visit them two or more times a year as the illegal workers do.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Taiwan mulls reducing the number of visa-free entries for citizens of Thailand, the Philippines and Brunei to two times year, down from currently six times. Particularly in the case of the two former countries, many young women have been found to abuse the visa-free entry to work illegally in Taiwan, including in prostitution.  Authorities did not specify what the particular problem with Brunei citizens was, though.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Taiwan mulls reducing the number of visa-free entries for citizens of Thailand, the Philippines and Brunei to two times year, down from currently six times. Particularly in the case of the two former countries, many young women have been found to abuse the visa-free entry to work illegally in Taiwan, including in prostitution.  Authorities did not specify what the particular problem with Brunei citizens was, though.

According to concerned minister Chang Jing Sen, there was a remarkable increase of 410,000 visitors from Thailand, the Philippines and Brunei as a result of the visa waiver program in the past two years. He said that the number of tourists from Thailand and the Philippines grew by 95 per cent and 48.5 per cent, respectively, as an annual average.

Taiwan media reported in April a female Thai national who had visited Taiwan multiple times to provide sex services in the country had tested positive for HIV, possibly infecting hundreds of clients, according to local police. They found that since October last year, the woman had visited Taiwan five times on the pretense of “sightseeing”, but had in fact engaged in the sex trade and was eventually deported.

To address the issue, the government has cut each visa-free stay to 14-15 days for citizens from the three countries. Also, “high-risk individuals” will be targeted in the strengthened inspection and follow-up measures.

The move comes after Thailand announced a new policy stipulating that Taiwanese people, who ironically need a visa (visa on arrival for tourists) to enter Thailand can only apply for visas via a single agency authorised by the Thai government which charges about 500 baht ($14) more than the present channels for granting entry.

This led to sharp protests by lawmakers in Taiwan, who attacked the one-sided nature of the current travel arrangements between the two countries. Thailand, as it often does, quickly removed to the new regulation after it faced the public criticism.

The problem of Thais engaging in illegal activities in visa-free countries is not confined to Taiwan, though. South Korea and Japan are also reportedly reviewing their visa-free policy for Thai nationals, after many people pretending to be tourists entered the country to work illegally, men mostly in construction and women in “massage parlours.”

According to travel agents, there are of course genuine Thai tourists to those countries, but very few who would visit them two or more times a year as the illegal workers do.

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