Taiwan’s travel agents have accused President Tsai Ing-wen’s government of allowing the island to be humiliated by failing to demand reciprocal visa-free treatment from Thailand.
Their complaints came after Thailand introduced stricter visa requirements on Monday for individual visitors from Taiwan, including submission of financial statements, which they said was demeaning for Taiwanese customers.
“This is really humiliating, just like some developed countries in the West that require visitors from the Third World or poorer countries to provide financial statements out of concerns that those visitors might end up becoming illegal immigrants,” Hsiao Po-jen, president of Taiwan’s Travel Agent Association, said.
Self-ruled Taiwan is among 18 jurisdictions whose citizens are affected by the new visa requirements to enter Thailand. Individual travellers from Taiwan must provide details of their finances to obtain a tourist visa, complete a visa application and pay online before booking an appointment in Taipei to submit their passport, along with proof of onward travel and accommodation.
Before the change, applicants needed to visit the Thai visa office, complete an application form, and submit a passport photo and copies of their identification and passports before obtaining a visa the same day.
Travel agents urged the island’s government to negotiate with Thailand over the requirements. Taiwan has allowed visa-free entry to Thai visitors since 2016.
“It is extremely unfair and the government should not turn a blind eye to such an unfair and humiliating treatment, given that Taiwan is one of the few countries enjoying visa waiver treatment in the US and that there were more than 680,000 Taiwanese visiting Thailand last year,” Hsiao said.
Travel agent Royce Wang said the government’s worsening relations with the mainland were to blame.
“To cut Taiwan’s economic reliance on the mainland, the government introduced the New Southbound Policy, aimed at increasing economic links with Southeast Asia nations,” he said.
Thailand is one of the countries targeted under the policy.
“Also, because of the sour relations with Beijing, which has resulted in the sharp drop in mainland visitors, the government has tried to offer visa-free treatment for some Southeast Asian countries, including Thailand, in an effort to make up for the lost tourism revenues,” Wang said, adding that this could not make up the shortfall, with mainlanders tending to spend more than Thai visitors.
Wang also claimed that the arrangements for Thai visitors had created an illegal prostitution problem in Taiwan because some Thai women were travelling there to work in the sex trade.
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This article Taiwanese travel agents take aim at Thailand’s ‘humiliating’ new visa requirements first appeared on South China Morning Post