Chinese Tourist Levels Rumored to Lower Between March to May

Chinese Tourist Levels Rumored to Lower Between March to May
Photo Credit: AP / 達志影像

What you need to know

·Dropping Chinese tourist levels may negatively affect Taiwan’s tourist industry. ·The election of Tsai Ing-wen may have prompted the Chinese government to restrict Cross-Strait tourism.

Since late January rumors concerning the drop of Chinese tourist levels has been swirling among the media. Such concerns were also made during the coming weeks of the Presidential election.

Whether or not the Chinese government mandated this is up in the air. Lee Chia-bin of the Taiwan Straits Tourist Association (TSTA) has noted that although this may be the case, the government may “not issue such a notification.”

Local travel groups reported varying estimates of how large the drops would be; the TSTA reported 30% while the China Post chimes in with as high as 50% for the period of March to May. Vacation packages for Chinese tourists were also reportedly slashed as much as 80%. Current government policy limits incoming Chinese tourist levels to 8,000 tourists a day.

With this having a large effect on Taiwan’s booming tourism industry, the Taiwanese government has urged an investigation into such rumors to determine their authenticity. Academics and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) recommend the government to consider different strategies such as multi-sourcing to attract tourists, especially those from neighboring Asian countries.

Currently, the most popular type of traveling within Taiwan are regional and short trips. Many foreigners view Taiwan as a place for a short vacation or backpacking.

The Tourism Bureau in turn has been considering to compensate the decreasing number of Chinese tourists with increasing “quality” Chinese tour groups where a daily minimum of NT$500 (approximately US$16) per person would be spent on meals and lodging at hotels of at least a one-star rating.

There were also rumors of Taiwanese tourists being restricted on travel destinations within China. What used to be 47 different cities of choice now drop to four – Beijing, Xiamen, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. In turn, several areas in China may halt its residents from visiting Taiwan may also be restricted.

Speculation on why such a drop of tourist numbers vary from the growing economic issues in China to it being in response to Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) being elected as President. When asked for comment on the matter, An Fengshan, spokesperson of TAO, elaborated on the Chinese opinion, pointing towards “market fluctuation” and the “willingness of travel agencies” as the reason for such a drop. Andrew Hsia (夏立言) of Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) echoed the reason given by An, further elaborating that it was just a rumor.

On March 1st, Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) Director Zhang Zhijun (張志軍) stated that he was not aware of the situation. In contrast, Premier Simon Chang (張善政) pointed out the number of incoming tourists to be “actually grew more than 10%” and Taiwan overall had still received a new growth this year.

Edited by Eric Tsai and Olivia Yang

The News Lens
“Bureau mulls Chinese tourism policy" (Taipei Times)
“Chang denies fall in Chinese tourist numbers" (Taipei Times)
“China Restricts Tourists to Taiwan" (China Topix)
“Chinese visitors may drop by 1/2: reports" (China Post)
“Don’t misread Chinese foreign minister’s remarks on Taiwan" (Focus Taiwan)
“Chinese tourists to drop 1/3 by March: TSTA" (Taiwan News)
“Taiwan policy unchanged after elections: mainland" (Xinhua News)