Translated and compiled by Shin-wei Chang

Starting from last October, there have been rumors that a decrease of Chinese tourists ranging from 30% to 95% would take place in March. On April 12, the Tourism Bureau of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications announced a 30% decrease in Chinese tourist groups and a 15% cut in Chinese independent travelers within two weeks.

►Related News: Chinese Tourist Levels Rumored to Lower Between March to May

China Times reports, the Tourism Bureau has set this year’s goal of international visitors at over ten million with Chinese estimated to make up 40%. With the number of Chinese tourists decreasing, the bureau might fail to reach the goal and Taiwan may see the first period of negative growth of international travelers in the past 17 years.

Lin Kun-yuan, a division chief of the Tourism Bureau, didn’t comment on the possibility of a negative growth and said that whether Chinese tourists would influence Taiwan’s overall tourism still depends on future developments.

In May, rumors the Chinese government was tightening restrictions on Chinese tourists started spreading among travel agencies, according to China Times.

Epoch Times reports, to meet the needs of Chinese tourists, numerous hotels were built and funds have been invested in relevant industries. If the number of Chinese travelers drops significantly, it might harm the livelihood of those industries.

Significant growth in Southeast Asian travelers

However, 1.7 million visits from foreign travelers were achieved in January and February alone, up 14% on the year prior. Among them, there was a 23% boost in tourists from Japan and Korea, and a 54% increase of Thai travelers.

Lin said, Taiwan’s government started promoting the “Kuan-hung Pilot Project (觀宏專案)” last November, simplifying the process of applying for travel visas for Southeast Asian tourist groups. The bureau received nearly 9,000 applications from travelers, most were from Thailand with some 300 tourist groups in total.

The Taiwanese government has also shifted the target market of tourism to the Islamic world. On March 13, studies showed that Taiwan has become more popular among Muslim visitors. Taiwan ranked seven this year as the most popular destination for Muslim travelers, beyond Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member countries.

►Related News: Taiwan Embracing Muslim Visitors To Make Up For Decreasing Chinese Tourists

Business Insider ranked Taiwan sixth among the 12 must-visit emerging travel destinations last year.

Edited by Olivia Yang

China Times
Epoch Times
Radio Taiwan International
“Chinese tourist applications down 15-30%: Tourism Bureau” (Focus Taiwan)
“12 emerging travel destinations that you have to visit in 2016” (Business Insider)
“Taiwan increasingly popular destination for Muslim tourists" (Taipei Times)