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A male customer is sitting at a booth selling tours to Taiwan for an HCMC-based travel firm. Taiwan will reissue Kuan Hung visas to Vietnamese from March 20.
The Taiwanese Tourism Bureau in a recent announcement sent to Vietnamese tour operators noted that only travel agencies appointed by the tourism bureau can apply for the e-visa for their customers. E-visa applications will be handled within seven days starting from the receipt date, and they must include the full names of tour leaders and round-trip air tickets for the tour members.
Tour groups to Taiwan under the Kuan Hung visa program must go through customs checkpoints with tour leaders and must arrive and leave the territory at the same time as the group leaders.
Also, travel firms caught violating the e-visa regulations will be subject to fines. Applications for future e-visas will be rejected for two months if up to three of their tourists exceed the registered length of stay or run away. If more than six tourists registered with a travel firm abscond, the travel firm will be eliminated from the approved list.
Besides this, the approved travel agencies must not operate or combine tour groups registered with other unauthorized agencies, or else they will be removed from the list.
Some local travel firms told the Saigon Times that they are currently making preparations to apply for the visas for their customers and ask for more specific information on the updated list of approved tour operators, as well as the new requirements related to the visa issuance.
Tu Quy Thanh, director of Lien bang Travelink, remarked that the number of customers booking his firm’s tours to Taiwan had declined strongly due to the e-visa suspension. However, tours to Taiwan may increase in the coming days, as the Taiwanese Tourism Bureau will put into service a tourism promotion office in HCMC to encourage more local people to visit Taiwan.
Taiwan launched the Kuan Hung visa program, which simplifies the process of applying for visas to the territory, for tour groups in certain countries, including Vietnam. The e-visa program was then suspended following the disappearance of 152 Vietnamese tourists in Taiwan in late 2018. Consequently, local tourists have to apply for paper visas with fees included.