The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday said that despite government claims that opening the country to Chinese tourists would benefit the economy, the policy had proved a failure.
Acting DPP spokesman Chuang Suo-hang (莊碩漢) told a press conference that since the government opened up the country to Chinese tourists on July 4 last year, only about 360,000 tourists from China had visited the country, or around 1,000 per day, much less than the government’s promise of 3,000.
About 3.5 million Taiwanese visited China in the same period, 10 times the figure for Chinese tourists, he said.
As Taiwan opens to Chinese investment in Taiwan’s tourism market, China should reciprocate and open its tourism market to Taiwanese investment, Chuang said.
He said that several Taiwanese travel agencies had complained that their counterparts in China had delayed payments, with some delayed payments turning into debts.
Chuang concluded that opening up to Chinese tourists had not benefited tourism or the economy and the government should be held responsible for its failed policy.
Chuang’s comments came after the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister paper) challenged President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) policy, saying it had only generated revenue of about NT$18 billion (US$548 million) because the number of Chinese tourists was far less than had been expected.
At a separate setting, DPP Legislator Yeh Yi-chin (葉宜津) said the government claimed that Chinese tourists would bring NT$60 billion in revenue per year.
“Where is the NT$60 billion?” she asked.
She said that according to the Sun Moon Lake National Scenic Area Administration, Chinese tourists spent on average NT$1,500 per day between January and last month, similar to what the average foreign tourist spent in the 1970s.
Meanwhile, Ma yesterday dismissed concerns about the disappointing number of Chinese tourists, saying more would come.
Ma yesterday acknowledged that the number of Chinese tourists in Taiwan varied from several hundred per day to about 5,000 per day, but added that his campaign promise would be carried out when the tourism industry is improved.
The industry should strengthen related facilities, such as increasing the number of tourist buses and boats, and raise the quality of its services to meet the demand of growing numbers of Chinese tourists, Ma told reporters yesterday in Panama City.
“There’s nothing wrong with the situation now and I believe we will attract more Chinese tourists when the tourism industry is ready. Chinese tourists are very interested in visiting Taiwan,” he said.
As of Tuesday, the recent number of Chinese tourist arrivals to Taiwan stood at 2,008 per day, said Steven Kuo Su (郭蘇燦洋), deputy director-general of the Tourism Bureau.
Attributing the low numbers to the global outbreak of (A)H1N1 influenza and the economic downturn, Kuo Su said he was confident that the situation would improve next year and that Chinese tourist arrivals would increase year-on-year.
“The Tourism Bureau plans to launch new promotions every year until 2012, by which time Chinese tourists arrivals should reach an annual 1.2 million,” Kuo Su said.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CNA