Tue, Feb 08, 2011 - Page 12 News List

Local tourist sector eyes growth from Chinese travelers

Staff Writer, with CNA

Taiwan is expected to open its borders to independent travelers from China soon, sparking optimism among companies in tourism-related sectors.

Ambassador Hotel (國賓飯店) deputy general manager Bill Chen (陳榮輝) said the arrival of independent Chinese tourists could come in the second or third quarter this year, with an initial quota of about 500 people per day.

“The Ambassador Kaohsiung could stand to benefit the most from the new arrivals, as its price range of about NT$2,000 [US$69] per day is a good fit for most Chinese tourists,” Chen said.

Chinese tourists already account for a significant portion of the Ambassador Kaohsiung’s clientele, as 45,000 Chinese guests stayed there last year, representing 22 percent of the hotel’s total number of guests, Chen said.

Taiwan began relaxing its travel restriction on Chinese visitors in July 2008.

However, Chinese tourists can currently only enter Taiwan as part of tour groups.

Phoenix Tours International Inc (鳳凰國際旅行社), the nation’s only publicly traded travel agency, was also upbeat about increased growth potential for this year, despite already seeing its revenues grow 50 percent last year.

Janfusun Fancy World Corp (劍湖山世界) general manager Chang Chin-jung (張錦榮) said Chinese tourists began returning to the group’s theme park in Yunlin County after traffic was reopened on roads leading to Alishan (阿里山) in neighboring Chiayi County, an area that is popular with tourists.

According to statistics released by the Mainland Affairs Council on Sunday, Chinese visiting Taiwan for non-business reasons have injected NT$91 billion into the country’s economy since July 2008.

The council said that between mid-2008 and the end of last year, 1.82 million Chinese tourists visited Taiwan and generated NT$91 billion in foreign exchange benefits and commercial opportunities.

Last year, 1.17 million Chinese came as tourists, an increase of 98 percent from the previous year, the council said, citing statistics from the Tourism Bureau and the National Immigration Agency.

In all, 1.63 million Chinese visited Taiwan last year, representing year-on-year growth of 68 percent, the statistics showed.

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