Sat, Jun 15, 2013 - Page 4 News List

Number of tour groups declines sharply

Staff writer, with CNA

Travel experts in Taiwan are trying to determine the reasons behind a sharp decline in the number of tour groups from China last month, with several of them pointing the finger at the concept of quality tours and a lack of promotion of such offerings.

The number of Chinese tour groups visiting Taiwan dropped by 23 percent last month compared with the same month last year.

The figure, representing about 137,000 Chinese tourists, came as such a disappointment that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is reported to have demanded an explanation from the Tourism Bureau.

During the first five months of this year, about 784,000 Chinese tourists visited to Taiwan, a 1.6 percent decline from a year ago.

That compares with a 45 percent increase last year compared with the previous year.

Several experts said that the decline last month could be a result of a recent Tourism Bureau move that discourages popular low-budget tours from China.

“It seems that the market needs more time to digest the trend,” said Yang Yeong-sheng (楊永盛), director of the bureau’s Hotel, Travel and Training Division.

As of May 1, half of the 5,000 daily entry permits issued to Chinese tour groups were reserved for those participating in the quality tour program.

Under the program, Chinese tourists must stay in star-rated hotels and are limited to only 250km on the road each day.

Chinese travelers in this program are required to spend at least NT$500 (US$17) every day for lunch and dinner combined.

The government said the plan aims to discourage low-budget tours that could leave a bad impression of the nation’s tourist industry.

No Chinese tourists signed up for the program last month. This month, a group of more than 100 Chinese travelers is scheduled to visit on a quality tour, Yang said.

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