Wed, Nov 21, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Number of Chinese tourists increases

PUNITIVE POLICY:An increasing number of independent travelers offset a decline in tour groups caused by a ban imposed by Beijing, the Tourism Bureau deputy head said

By Hsiao Yu-hsin and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Despite this year being an election year, when Chinese tourist numbers usually decline, the numbers have risen from last year, Tourism Bureau data show.

In the first nine months of this year, 2,013,670 Chinese tourists visited Taiwan, up 1.87 percent from the same period last year, the data show.

The increase came despite Beijing’s partial ban on tour groups that halved the number of tours between April and September, and a full ban last month and this month.

Border entry data from the National Immigration Agency show a 5.3 percent annual decline in the number of Chinese tour groups between January and last month, but a 1.2 percent increase in individual travelers.

The numbers do not take into account entries through the “small three links,” the agency said.

While the number of Chinese tour groups has decreased this year, the decline was offset by the increase in individual travelers, whose numbers are still rising, bureau Deputy Director-General Chang Hsi-tsung (張錫聰) said.

Beijing can place restrictions only on tour groups, so the government and local tour operators should endeavor to attract individual travelers, Chang said.

Huang Cheng-tsung (黃正聰), associate professor at Providence University’s Department of Tourism, said the largest increases in the number of Chinese tourists were recorded in February and March, but the number of tour groups plunged between May and September, due to Beijing’s restrictions.

The decline was close to 10 percent, Huang said.

A slight increase in overall tourist numbers that was observed after August last year was probably caused by the Democratic Progressive Party’s promise to maintain the “status quo” in cross-strait relations, he said.

Independent travel is the latest trend and the number of independent Chinese travelers will likely increase slightly or remain stable, he said.

Tourism industry operators should focus on attracting individual Chinese travelers, rather than tour groups, he said.

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