Two large cruise ships from abroad arrived at Keelung Port yesterday.
The Europa, registered in the Bahamas, arrived at 7am yesterday with 339 tourists from Europe and North America.
Later the Legend of the Seas arrived, carrying approximately 1,600 employees of the direct-marketing company Amway China, the second of a series of tours being organized this year by the firm to reward its employees.
The Legend also brought 1,616 Amway China employees from Shanghai a week ago.
The Keelung Port Bureau said 42 cruise ships had scheduled to dock at the harbor this year.
Despite the arrival of two cruise ships yesterday, the media focused its attention on the group from China.
Many of the Amway employees seemed very excited upon arrival in Keelung, with some singing Gaoshanqing, a Taiwanese song about the beauty of Alishan.
Dozens of Falun Gong practitioners turned up at the harbor to greet the tourists and express concern about the suppression of the spiritual movement in China.
The followers held a demonstration as the tourists arrived, unfurling banners reading “The Chinese communists suppress their compatriots” and “Down with the tyranny of the Chinese communists.”
The group was eventually dispersed by police because they had not applied for a permit to demonstrate.
Surprised tourists shunned the protesters and hurried to the tour buses waiting to take them to the National Palace Museum, where many shopped extensively at the museum gift shop.
Souvenirs featuring the museum’s famed green jade carved in the shape of a Chinese cabbage, one of the collection’s most popular treasures, were in high demand.
After the first group of Amway employees came under fire last week by the media and lawmakers for alleged arrogant behavior when shopping, the group yesterday seemed a bit more low-key.
When asked by reporters how much they planned to spend and what they intended to buy, the tourists gave answers such as “It depends on the budget we have and things we want to buy” or “I don’t know, I’ll have to check with my husband.”
The Tourism Bureau has estimated that the number of Chinese tourists entering Taiwan this week would reach 15,765, making the daily average approximately 2,300.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) promised during his election campaign that 3,000 Chinese tourists would enter Taiwan daily with the launch of cross-strait flights.
Arrivals were averaging a few hundred a day until China agreed on Jan. 20 to allow residents in another 12 provinces and cities to book trips to Taiwan, meaning that Chinese residing in a total of 25 provinces and cities can now travel to Taiwan.
Chinese authorities later also boosted the number of Chinese tour operators that are allowed to offer trips to Taiwan from 33 to 100.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY AGENCIES