Dr. Gary Song-Huann Lin, Representative of the Republic of China (Taiwan) to the Philippines, recently said the long-standing and mutually beneficial close relations between Taiwan and the Philippines gained greater significance under President Tsai Ing-wen’s “New Southbound Policy” with a visit early this month by an 80-strong Philippine delegation led by Department of Tourism (DOT) Assistant Secretary Maria Lourdes Japson and 2015 Miss World-Philippines Hillarie Danielle Parungao.
The delegation attended the opening ceremony of the 2016 Asia-Pacific Cultural Day (APCD) on November 5
held at the Taipei Main Station.
The APCD is mainly organized by Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Philippine participation in the cultural day had been organized by the Manila Economic and Cultural Office or MECO in the Philippines and the DOT.
In a speech, Lin said ties between Taiwan and the Philippines are “wide-ranging” in trade, investment, agriculture, fisheries, labor and tourism.
“Taiwan is the top 6th visitor source for the Philippines and we do believe that tourism is indeed one of the best and effective means to forge stronger partnership and cooperation among our two peoples, ” he added.
Lin said Taiwan and the Philippines were able to amend the 1996 air traffic agreement between them, paving the way for more flights and new routes between Taipei and Manila.
There are now 255 flights being offered per month.
Major airlines such as AirAsia, Cebu Pacific, China Airlines, Eva Air and Philippine Airlines have introduced new routes and increased passenger seat capacity.
Taipei and Manila have also relaxed their respective visa measures, allowing easier access to tourism exchanges between them.
Lin said he envisions that the timely visit to Taiwan by the Philippine delegation can create more opportunities of cooperation in business, investment, culture, education, labor and technology for a win-win situation for Taipei and Manila.
The APCD, reputedly one of the biggest inter-cultural festivals in Taiwan, is running on its 5th year and being joined by 20 countries including Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Japan and the Philippines.
It aims to illustrate the rich cultures and diversity of the participating countries by showcasing their cuisines and products.
In time for the APCD, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office or TECO in the Philippines, in partnership with local travel operators, EVA Air and Philippine Airlines, offered a “Special Time to Visit Taiwan” promotional package for Filipino tourists who would like to participate in the event and tour Taiwan’s famous historical and tourists attractions.
The promotional tour package attracted Filipino tourists and local travel operators, with almost 40 accredited operators joining the visit to Taiwan.
Participants were able to visit some of Taiwan’s famous landmarks such as Taipei 101, Taipei Guest House and National Palace Museum; tour night markets and shopping districts; sample Taiwan’s best cuisines; and cruise world-renowned Sun Moon Lake.
In an exclusive interview with Formosa Television, Miss World-Philippines Parungao said, “It is my first time to visit Taiwan and I am very fascinated to find out how Taiwan influenced our culture and vice-versa. Like for example, in terms of food and technology, we really do share a lot of commonalities.”
According to her, she can encourage more Filipino tourists to visit Taiwan most especially because it is near the Philippines.
“Taiwan is such a wonderful and a safe place, especially to young Filipinos. It ranks as the second safest country in the world. Transportation is also very convenient and, in terms of accommodation, there is a lot to choose from. Taiwan is really a perfect getaway for all sorts of travelers,” Parugao said.