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Tourism

Multiple-entry visas to Taiwan available online for Hong Kong permanent residents

But new policy restricts eligibility only to those who hold a Hong Kong passport

PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 October, 2017, 5:53pm
UPDATED : Monday, 02 October, 2017, 10:55pm

Hong Kong permanent residents, forming one of the largest groups of visitors to Taiwan, are now eligible to apply online for multiple-entry visas to visit the island, its authorities announced on Monday.

The simpler application procedures are expected to prompt Hongkongers make even more trips to Taiwan and boost the island’s tourism sector, which has been hit hard by the sharp decline in mainland visitors recently.

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But Hong Kong permanent residents who hold another passport are not eligible to apply for the multiple-entry visa online, nor are those who hold a British National Overseas passport, the National Immigration Agency of Taiwan said. Similar rules and restrictions apply to Macau permanent residents.

“We hope the service could stimulate the development of domestic tourism and encourage exchanges and communication of all kinds with Hong Kong and Macau,” the agency said.

Previously, Hong Kong permanent residents could only apply for single-entry visas to Taiwan through the agency’s online platform. Multiple-entry visa applicants must go in person to the island’s representative office in Admiralty. Obtaining a visa upon arrival in Taiwan remains an option for Hongkongers.

In the first seven months this year, more than 966,000 people from Hong Kong and Macau visited Taiwan, growing 7.16 per cent compared with the same period last year. The city is the third-largest tourist market for Taiwan after the mainland and Japan.

However, the number of visitors from its biggest market, the mainland, slumped 37.7 per cent to just 1.5 million during the same period.

“The Taiwan government has clearly seen the need to attract more visitors from Hong Kong and Macau, especially when mainland tourists are less passionate about visiting Taiwan [now],” Hong Kong tourism sector lawmaker Yiu Si-wing said.