Taipei, July 20 (CNA) The visa-free treatment of tourists from Thailand, Brunei, the Philippines and Russia will be extended for another year, from Aug. 1, 2021 to July 31, 2022, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) announced Tuesday.
The decision to extend the visa-free treatment of the four countries was made following a review by relevant agencies at a meeting on April 12, MOFA said in a press statement.
The decision was also taken in preparation for the resumption of international travel in the post-pandemic era, MOFA said.
However, the ministry clarified that the policy is separate from Taiwan's ongoing ban on the entry of foreign tourists due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been in effect since March 19, 2020.
MOFA said it will decide when to reopen the country's borders to foreign travelers for tourism purposes based on the recommendations of the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).
Under the government's "New Southbound Policy," which seeks to promote closer exchanges with neighboring countries, the ministry first granted visa-free treatment to tourists from Thailand and Brunei on Aug. 1, 2016.
The privilege has since been extended each year, with the Philippines and Russia added to the list.
Another decision reached after the April 12 meeting was to extend the Project for Simplifying Visa Regulations for High-end Group Tourists from Southeast Asian Countries (觀宏專案) until Dec. 31, 2022, MOFA said.
Under the project, which was first introduced in 2015, tourists from India, Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos are allowed to visit Taiwan using electronic visas if they are in a group of at least five and travel via an accredited travel agency.