The Taiwan Tourist Hotel Association yesterday called on the government to help stimulate the nation’s tourism by accelerating negotiations with the Chinese government to ease limits on airport transits and Chinese tourist numbers.
A positive move by the government may allow the nation to achieve the target of 9 million foreign visitors this year proposed by Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) earlier this year, and perhaps even reach the 10 million mark, the association said.
“The number of Chinese tourists visiting Taiwan significantly increased during the Lunar New Year holiday,” association president Lai Cheng-i (賴正鎰) said.
A daily average of 6,907 Chinese free independent travelers (FIT) visited Taiwan during the Lunar New Year holiday this year, a sharp increase from the 1,200 recorded last year, Lai said, citing data from the National Immigration Agency.
“If the government can push for a larger number of Chinese FITs and cross-strait flights, the total number of Chinese visitors to Taiwan may exceed 10 million this year,” Lai added.
In November last year, Taiwan and China agreed to expand the number of direct flights in the near future to 828 per week from 670 now, a move the association hopes will be implemented as soon as possible.
The association said it recommended that another 15 Chinese cities be added to the 26 already included in the FIT program for Chinese tourists by April, and expected both sides to raise the daily limit on independent tourists from 3,000 currently to 5,000.
In addition, Taiwan could become a major transit point for Chinese tourists, Lai said, calling on Beijing to ease travel restrictions for travelers from second and third-tier cities so that they could change airplanes in Taiwan without having to obtain exit and entry permits.
Meanwhile, Lai, who is also the chairman of land developer Shining Group (鄉林集團) and operates the Hotel Lalu (涵碧樓) in Nantou County’s Sun Moon Lake, said the pace of construction would increase on the second Lalu in Qingdao, Shandong Province, China.
The hotel is set to start trial operations next month or in April before its official opening in June.
Lai said a 50 percent occupancy rate for the hotel’s first year of operation would probably see the company break even.