Something’s wrong with the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) map of the top 10 destinations for Chinese tourists in 2014, which was recently reproduced on the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ (CSIS) new China Power Project website. Despite being the third-largest recipient of Chinese tourists that year, with 3.98 million arrivals, Taiwan is not mentioned.
A quick compiling of online statistics shows that about 2.4 million Chinese tourists visited Japan in 2014; 2.3 million went to Malaysia; 2.2 million to France; 1.95 million to Vietnam; 1.8 million to the U.S.; 1.7 million to Singapore; 1.5 million to Italy; and 1.1 million to Russia.
All are well behind the 3.98 million arrivals in Taiwan, which only trailed South Korea (6.72 million) and Thailand (4.63 million) during that same period. Hong Kong, which is in a category of its own, received 47.2 million Chinese visitors in 2014.
Undoubtedly, this is due to the fact that the island-nation is not recognized as a member state by the Madrid-based UNWTO, which leads to the kind of fiction — and negation — in the media that continues to hurt Taiwan. Unfortunately the failure to recognize Taiwan as a separate tourism destination exacerbates the longstanding problems it has faced (some of those are self-inflicted) in advertising itself abroad as a place that potential tourists might want to visit in future. When even the global organization in charge of tourism denies your existence, the challenge can only be all the much greater.
J. Michael Cole is a Taipei-based Senior Non-Resident Fellow with the University of Nottingham’s China Policy Institute and an Associate Researcher with the French Centre for Research on Contemporary China (CEFC).
First Editor: Olivia Yang