The number of Chinese tourists visiting Taiwan reached 2.73 million last year, down 18 percent from the previous year, but down 33 percent since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) assumed office in May last year, Ministry of the Interior statistics released on Saturday showed.
A total of 3.47 million Chinese visitors arrived in Taiwan last year, 2.73 million of whom (78.8 percent) came for tourism, while others visited for professional exchanges or medical treatment, statistics showed.
There were 600,000 fewer tourists than in 2015, a decrease of 18 percent. However, when May to December last year is compared with the same period in 2015, there were 739,925 fewer tourists, a drop of 33 percent, National Immigration Agency data showed.
Overall Chinese visitor arrivals dropped last year, down 16.2 percent compared with the previous year.
There were 41,000 fewer Chinese professional exchange visitors during the whole of last year, as compared with 2015.
The drop in Chinese visitors came amid cooling relations between Taiwan and China since Tsai took office, mainly due to her refusal to heed Beijing’s call to recognize the so-called “1992 consensus” as the sole foundation for cross-strait exchanges.
The so-called “1992 consensus” — a term former Mainland Affairs Council chairman Su Chi (蘇起) admitted to making up in 2000 — refers to a tacit understanding between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Chinese Communist Party that both sides acknowledge there is “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what “China” means.
Taiwan has been seeking to attract more tourists from Southeast Asia through measures such as streamlining visa procedures.
As a result, the total number of foreign visitors last year increased by 2.4 percent to a record high of 10.69 million, despite the drop in Chinese visitors.
However, tourism industry statistics have shown that Chinese tourists, especially those coming in tour groups, tend to spend more money.
Despite the overall decline in Chinese tourists, those who took advantage of the “small three links” to visit Kinmen, Matsu and Penghu increased by 12,000, the ministry said.
About 256,000 Chinese visitors last year came via the “small three links” across the Taiwan Strait, the ministry said, adding that this represented 7.4 percent of total Chinese visitor arrivals in Taiwan.
Meanwhile, 133,000 Chinese nationals visited Taiwan last year for professional exchanges, accounting for 3.8 percent of the total, the ministry said.