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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs    27  July  2016  

Visa-free travel can boost tourism, air linkages

THE move to waive visa requirements for Bruneians travelling to Taiwan is hoped to pave the way for increased tourism and better air linkages between the two countries.

Geoffrey Han, Secretary of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Brunei, said that the visa-free travel for Bruneians, set to begin next month, is a good first step which can boost the tourism sector for both nations.

When asked about the introduction of direct airline flights, Han said that airline companies would first have to make commercial considerations before doing so.

“Once the number of tourists crosses the threshold, airline companies would think it’s profitable to open direct flights between Brunei and Taiwan,” he said in an email interview with The Brunei Times.

Last week, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Brunei announced that Bruneians will be given a visa-free access to Taiwan beginning in August.

Currently, the visa-waiver programme which is on trial for a year is not eligible for stateless permanent residents in Brunei.

According to figures released by the office last week, over 700 Bruneians have visited Taiwan up to the month of June. Nearly 1,500 Bruneians visited Taiwan in 2015 while 1,650 Bruneians visited the country in the previous year.

Only 295 Taiwanese visitors came to Brunei in 2015, a small decrease from the 298 recorded in 2014.

Han said that trade links between Brunei and Taiwan can be further streamlined with the increased availability of information from Brunei websites which allows Taiwanese companies to learn more about the country.

“If the websites can provide more open data and information, as well as provide website information in Chinese, it would help to increase trade between two countries,” he added.

He listed the industries of agriculture, aquaculture and seafood processing as some of the potential opportunities for trade between Brunei and Taiwan.

Currently, most of trade value goes to Brunei’s exports of petrochemical products which totalled US$462 million ($628.5 million) in 2014, Han said.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

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By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More






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