Opening the country to Chinese tourists will not contribute as much to the economy as most people expect, according to a think tank.
The Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research (CIER) made the prediction after the Mainland Affairs Council said that Chinese tourists could be expected to begin arriving at the end of the year, judging from the progress in negotiations between the two sides on the matter.
Chou Ji (周濟), director of the institute's center for economic outlook, said that if 1,000 Chinese tourists visited Taiwan each day, this would mean 365,000 visits by Chinese tourists every year.
The Bureau of Tourism said that if Chinese tourists spent US$180.5 per day on average and stayed for 7.61 days each visit, then this would translate into US$501 million in tourism revenue for Taiwan.
Chou said tourism revenue should be counted as commodity and service exports. The institute had originally estimated that if Chinese tourists began arriving this month, then the commodity and service exports in the third quarter would increase by around NT$3 billion (US$91.46 million), or a 0.04 percentage point increase in the nation's economic growth, pushing it to 4.15 percent from the original estimate of 4.11 percent.
Chou said that the main reason was the policy ceiling of 1,000 Chinese tourists per day. Even if there were 365,000 visits by Chinese to Taiwan a year, the number of Chinese tourists would only account for 9.25 percent of foreign tourists.
Until the government raises the ceiling on the number of Chinese tourists, there will not be a significant boost to economic growth, he said.