The Cabinet yesterday said that a Facebook post by Minister Without Portfolio Chang Ching-sen (張景森) describing Chinese visitors as Taiwan’s “most needed friends” was his personal view and did not represent the government’s stance.
“Chang’s Facebook post is his personal comment, not the Executive Yuan’s formal stance on [tourism] policy” Executive Yuan spokesman Tung Chen-yuan (童振源) said.
Chang on Sunday wrote that “it would be a real danger” if a majority of Chinese became antipathic toward Taiwan.
Taiwan’s “freewheeling netizens” should stop posting such detrimental comments as “Taiwan is getting fresh air again now that the mainland tourist presence is reduced,” he wrote.
“These kinds of comments only provoke Chinese antipathy toward Taiwan. Should that become widespread, I see a real danger for Taiwan,” he wrote. “No matter how you look at the Chinese government, I hope you Internet users will be able to tell Chinese people from their government and realize that Chinese tourists are our most needed friends.”
“They come here because they like Taiwan. As we know, most of them leave with a good impression and beautiful memories of Taiwan,” Chang wrote.
As convener of a Cabinet task force set up to attract Chinese tourists, Chang said he was aware of a slump in the tourism industry because of the drastic decline in the number of Chinese tourists in July and last month, without providing any figures.
Despite the decline in Chinese tourists, total tourist arrivals reached 6.28 million between January and July, an increase of 7.9 percent over the same period last year, Tung said yesterday.
The government welcomes Chinese tourists and it will help travel agencies that have been hurt by the drop in Chinese visitors, as well as help the tourism industry diversify its source of tourists, the spokesman said.
Efforts are being made to attract and accommodate Muslim travelers, while the Tourism Bureau has an ample budget this year to court Southeast Asian visitors and domestic travelers, he said.
Additional reporting by Chen Wei-han
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