Taipei, A total of 409 out of 566 foreign tourists who arrived in Taiwan as part of a special visa program launched in November 2015 and who went missing are Vietnamese tourists, Taiwan’s Tourism Bureau said Wednesday.
That program made it easier for citizens of Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, India and Brunei to visit Taiwan, in part through waivers of visa fees for groups of at least five tourists from the six countries, as long as they were organized by Tourism Bureau-designated “quality travel agencies” or part of company-sponsored groups.
In the latest case, 152 Vietnamese tourists are unaccounted for since entering Taiwan earlier this month, the bureau confirmed Tuesday.
Since the special program was launched in 2015, missing foreign tourists have been reported every year except for 2015.
According to official statistics, a total of 225,702 tourists have come to Taiwan through the special program, including 853 in 2015, 24,312 in 2016, 101,793 in 2017 and 98,744 as of November 2018, while 566 have gone missing, including 29 in 2016, 33 in 2017 and 504 in 2018.
Vietnamese account for 409 of the 566 tourists who went missing, according to the data.
The bureau said that as a result of the sharp increase in the number of Vietnamese tourists unaccounted for, the government has shortened the length of visas issued to Vietnamese from 30 to 14 days.
In addition, the bureau asked MOFA to stop granting group visas to Vietnamese tourists.
In a related development, officials at Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) asked the Vietnamese authorities to strengthen preventive measures after reports of 152 Vietnamese tourists going missing this month.
Officials from MOFA expressed concern on Wednesday during a meeting with officials from Vietnam’s representative office in Taiwan over the matter and urged the Vietnamese government to improve controls, according to a MOFA official familiar with the matter.
The request was positively received by the Vietnamese officials, the MOFA official said.
The Vietnamese officials said the office will remain in close contact with MOFA and Taiwan’s National Immigration Agency and will draft measures to prevent similar incidents.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel