Fri, Jul 17, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Hoteliers hoping restrictions on PRC tourists will ease

HARD TIMES Industry sources said fears of swine flu have affected the number of Chinese tourists visiting Taiwan over the last couple of months

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

Hoteliers are hoping for a quick revision of regulations to allow visits by individual tourists from China, as bookings for rooms next month, usually the industry’s busiest, remain low business sources said.

The sources said there would be no increase in the number of Chinese tourists to Taiwan next month and predicted that the hotel business would perform worse than in recent years.

Apart from allowing individual Chinese tourists to visit, it is also important to boost domestic travel and tourist arrivals from other countries, the sources said.

Currently, Taiwan only permits Chinese visitors in tour groups of a minimum of five people.

During an inspection tour of tourism facilities in Matsu last week, Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) endorsed the idea of initially allowing individual visitors from China to visit Matsu and other outlying islands, then easing restrictions for Taiwan proper at a later date. Liu instructed the Tourism Bureau to draft a plan to this effect and submit it to the Executive Yuan, which would then coordinate discussions among the relevant government agencies and move the issue forward for negotiation with China.

However, local hotel sources suggested that the spread of swine flu in Southeast Asian countries may be the major factor currently affecting people’s willingness to travel, particularly at a time when economies have not yet fully recovered from the global financial storm.

Taiwan opened its doors to Chinese sightseers lat July, but the average daily number of Chinese visitor arrivals has been lower than the maximum quota of 3,000 per day set by Taiwan.

Although the number of arrivals rose in March and April, business sources said, swine flu has affected people’s willingness to travel.

In April, an average of 3,280 Chinese tourists per day entered Taiwan, but that number fell to 1,500 per day in late May and averaged only 950 per day last month.

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