Minister of Transportation and Communications Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) yesterday said the government would consider raising the quota for Chinese tourists from 3,000 to 4,000 per day, adding that Taipei and Beijing could review the possibility before the end of the year.
Mao made the statement a day after Taiwan and China announced a plan to increase the number of Chinese free independent travelers (FIT) visiting Taiwan.
At present, only residents of Beijing, Shanghai and Xiamen are allowed to visit Taiwan as FITs. Those from other cities in China must visit with tour groups formed by Chinese travel agencies.
The new plan would expand the number of Chinese cities qualified for the FIT program to include 10 other cities: Tianjin, Chongqing, Nanjing, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Chengdu, Jinan, Xian, Fuzhou and Shenzhen.
The cap for Chinese FITs was recently raised from 500 to 1,000 visitors a day.
However, the total number of Chinese tourists is still capped at 3,000 per day.
“Let’s see if we can look at it [the plan to raise the cap for Chinese tour group visitors] in the second half of this year,” Mao said when asked if both sides could review the plan.
“We do not rule out the possibility. We will adjust [the plan] if it is necessary, looking at both the supply and demand sides,” Mao said.
Mao said Taiwan did not have any problem on the supply side, adding that many new hotels were being built.
He said that travel agencies arranging tours for Chinese tourists should offer in-depth or different theme tours.
The Tourism Bureau said that both sides have agreed to execute the new FIT program in two stages after considering factors such as a city’s readiness for such a program and the balance of different regions in China.
The new program is scheduled to begin in Tianjin, Chongqing, Nanjing, Guangzhou, Hangzhou and Chengdu on April 28.
Visitors in the four other cities on the list might be allowed to visit through the FIT program before the end of this year, the bureau said.
The Chinese FIT program was launched on June 28 last year. As of February, about 46,000 Chinese FITs had visited Taiwan.
The bureau said no major violations or overstays had been recorded.
About 1.78 million Chinese visited Taiwan last year, a 9 percent increase on the previous year.
Chinese visitors accounted for 29.2 percent of total international tourists last year.