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Philippines to launch online visa application for Taiwanese

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Philippines is preparing to launch an online visa application system for Taiwanese nationals as part of efforts to make the visa process more convenient, according to the Philippines' representative to Taiwan.

The Manila Economic and Cultural Office, which represents the Philippines' interests in Taiwan in the absence of bilateral diplomatic ties, is currently evaluating ways to make visa process more convenient and easier for Taiwanese visitors to the Southeast Asian country, Antonio Basilio told CNA in a recent interview.

In line with such efforts, the online visa application system is set to be available by the end of this year, he added.

Currently, Taiwanese applicants have to go to MECO's office to submit their applications and can obtain the visa within a day.

To make business travel easier, the Philippines also grants multiple-entry visas to Taiwanese businessmen, Basilio said.

According to official statistics, a total of 178,876 Taiwanese nationals visited the Philippines in 2011, 211,385 in 2012, and 129,361 in 2013.

The drop in the number of Taiwanese travelers in 2013 could be related to the incident in which a Taiwanese fisherman was shot dead by the Philippine Coast Guard last May, triggering sanctions by Taiwan against the Philippines, including discouraging Taiwanese nationals from visiting the Southeast Asian country. The sanctions were lifted in August.

As bilateral ties have returned to normal and the Philippines has been promoting local tourism, the number of Taiwanese visitors this year is expected to rise again.

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