Tourism Bureau Director-General Hsu Wen-sheng (
As of last month, the bureau had recorded 28.6 million visits by foreign tourists -- just a 4 percent growth compared with the same period last year.
Hsu said the bureau estimated last year that the growth in tourist visits for this year would top 10 percent.
Hsu announced the numbers in a report to members of the Legislative Transportation Committee yesterday, which is scheduled to review the budget plan for the Tourism Bureau for the next fiscal year.
The failure to meet this year's goal drew criticism from legislators yesterday.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Wang Yu-ting (
Wang said that both Taiwan and China have established offices to handle cross-strait tourism, but said the bureau in Taiwan has done almost nothing to encourage more tourists from China to come.
"The goal will never be met if direct access remains closed to Chinese tourists," Wang said.
She also noted that Chinese tourists are often duped into paying more than Taiwanese for souvenirs, a phenomenon which eventually would come back to haunt the tourism industry.
KMT Legislator Huang Chao-shun (
In response, Hsu said that both sides had been talking about allowing Chinese tourists to visit without transiting through a third country.
Vice Minister of Transportation and Communications Ho Nuan-hsuan (何煖軒) said that the upcoming launch of the High Speed Rail would help facilitate tourist transportation when visitors move around the nation.
The tourists would be able to choose to arrive in Taipei or Kaohsiung and leave from either of the airports by using the new train service once it opens, she said.
According to the tourism bureau, a total of 22,190 Chinese tourists visited in April and May. However, the number quickly dropped during China's National Day holidays, with only about 2,100 Chinese visiting Taiwan.
The bus accident that occurred the day before the Mid-Autumn Festival this year also has brought concerns over tour quality to the forefront.
Chang Hsueh-lao (