China’s Cross-Strait Tourism Exchange Association (CSTEA) has set an objective of encouraging 5 million Chinese tourists to visit Taiwan annually, its chairman Shao Qiwei (邵琪偉) said yesterday.
“This is not something that’s impossible to achieve,” Shao said. “Although the majority of Chinese tourists who have visited Taiwan are from medium-income families, many Chinese from low-income families are trying to save up money to visit Taiwan.”
“If only 10 percent of [China’s 1.3 billion people] visit Taiwan, that would make 130 million tourists ... If we have an average of 5 million visitors from China, it would take 26 years to ‘digest’ 1.3 million potential Chinese tourists,” Shao said.
Shao made the remarks at a cross-strait tourism seminar at the Grand Hotel, where travel agents from China and Taiwan met to exchange views on the cross-strait tourism industry.
Shao said cross-strait flight services available at the moment would be insufficient to accommodate 5 million Chinese tourists a year.
To facilitate transportation of Chinese tourists, both Taiwan and China should strive to offer cross-strait cruise services to make up for limited flights, he said.
For its part, the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) said it hoped the number of flights between Taiwan and cities in China — especially Shanghai and Beijing — could be increased to cope with anticipated growth in Chinese tourist arrivals.
With Taiwan soon to open its doors to independent Chinese tourists, most likely from Shanghai and Beijing in the plan’s initial stages, more flights would be needed to accommodate the increase in demand, it said.
At present, Chinese tourists are only permitted to enter Taiwan as members of tour groups.
The CAA said Shanghai has been the most popular destination since the opening of nonstop flights across the Taiwan Strait in 2008, with weekend flights packed and weekday flights averaging load factors of more than 80 percent.
However, despite tight capacity, the CAA acknowledged that promoting the opening of more flights between Taiwan and Shanghai would not be easy because of the heavy concentration of domestic and international flights already serving the eastern Chinese city.
Should it prove difficult to open more flights to Shanghai, the CAA said it hoped the total number of nonstop cross-strait flights could be increased, with additional service offered to cities near Shanghai, such as Hangzhou and Ningbo in Zhejiang Province and Wuxi, Jiangasu Province.
At present, there are a total of 370 nonstop flights between Taiwan and China, with 28 serving Shanghai’s Pudong airport, 14 serving Shanghai’s Hongqiao airport and 14 serving Beijing.
Additional reporting by CNA
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