The Taiwan Visitors Association confirmed this week that Chinese tour operators will not attend this year’s Cross-Strait Taipei Travel Fair, which is scheduled to take place in October.
It would be the first time Chinese tour operators skip the fair since it opened in 2006.
The fair was for several years jointly organized by the Taiwan Visitors Association and the Association for Tourism Exchange Across the Taiwan Straits, two quasi-official agencies representing Taiwan’s Tourism Bureau and China’s National Tourism Administration.
It was held at the same time as the International Travel Fair (ITF), another annual event organized by the Taiwan Visitors Association. Both were held at the Taipei World Trade Center, but treated as separate fairs.
Over the years, the Cross-Strait Taipei Travel Fair has evolved into a major platform for tourism businesses across the Taiwan Strait to interact with each other and form partnerships.
The Chinese delegation to the fair was to be led by the chief of the Chinese National Travel Administration and to include tourism officials from different cities and provinces in China, who were to meet with Taiwanese tourism officials and travel agencies.
Last year, 600 representatives of travel associations from 28 Chinese cities and provinces attended the fair.
However, Taiwan Visitors Association secretary-general Wu Chao-yen (吳朝彥) said that Chinese tour operators this year would not be exhibiting at the fair.
“We have yet to hear from the Association for Tourism Exchange Across the Taiwan Straits whether Chinese tourism operators are able to attend the fair this year. Unfortunately, we need to plan the fair ahead of time and there are many issues to address, so we have no other option but to lease the booths reserved for Chinese tour operators to other domestic and international operators,” Wu said.
Wu said the association has informed local tour operators that they can still submit requests for more booths at the fair, adding that the association would place more detailed information about these booths on its Web site.
The incident should not be considered a sign that cross-strait tourism was in decline, Wu said.
Both sides simply failed to work out certain details during the planning process, Wu said.
The Taiwan Visitors Association would still extend invitations to Chinese operators for next year’s fair, Wu said.
The association added in a statement that it had never stopped contacting and inviting its Chinese partner to have preparatory meetings before the fair.
“However, we did not receive any definite response from them, which forced us to keep postponing our preparatory work. Nevertheless, we still waited for their official reply with patience and sincerity,” it said.
The two associations did manage to hold a first preparatory meeting for the fair last month, following multiple negotiations and correspondences, the statement said.
However, the meeting left both sides with many unsettled issues, it said.
The Taiwan Visitors Association eventually requested that its Chinese counterpart address these issues by Aug. 10 so that it could proceed with the preparatory work, but the result was unsatisfactory.
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