Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) would increase the number of foreign tourists to Taiwan to 20 million by 2028 if elected president, his policy advisory team said yesterday.
Tourist arrivals from China have decreased nearly 1.5 million during President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) term in office, from 4.18 million in 2016 to 2.69 million last year, said Han, the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) presidential candidate.
Han was speaking at a news conference in Tainan also attended by his advisory team to unveil his tourism policy.
Photo: Tsai Wen-chu, Taipei Times
As the tourism industry suffers, more than 30 sectors related to tourism, such as transportation, culture and agriculture, also suffer, he said.
Many obstacles facing the nation’s tourism industry are “manmade,” Han said, and pledged to clear them and ensure that the nation has “no enemies” if elected president.
“For Taiwan to get rich, goods need to be sold and people need to come in,” he said.
Han would increase the nation’s international tourist arrivals to 15 million by 2024 and to 20 million by 2028 if elected for a second term, his policy advisory team said.
To achieve the goals, Han would improve cross-strait relations to increase the number of Chinese tourists, said Simon Chang (張善政), who leads the team.
“The tourism industry cannot be well unless cross-strait relations are well,” he said, adding that Han would also enhance transportation infrastructure to attract more tourists from Europe, the US, Japan and South Korea.
For example, Han would plan a new airport in southern Taiwan and new railroads or gondolas in mountains, such as Alishan (阿里山), Chang said.
Furthermore, to improve tourism, Han would restructure the Tourism Bureau into the ministry of tourism and streamline its departments, Chang added.
Last year, the bureau had a budget of NT$4.6 billion (US$150.3 million), he said, adding that the planned tourism ministry would have an annual budget at least double that number.
“This is our promise and we will definitely deliver it,” Chang said.
Asked if the policy has factored in the unpredictability of the Chinese government and the risks that entail, Han said: “We would not put all our eggs in one basket. That would be impossible. We are not that silly.”
He would not try to narrow the nation’s tourism market, he added.
Separately, Minister of the Interior Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) yesterday said he has ordered heightened police security for Han, after a person threw an egg at him as he was leaving a campaign event in Tainan’s Shueipingwun Park the day before.
The Tainan City Government said it has provided extra police officers, along with plainclothes officers and surveillance teams, for Han’s visit to several temples and major tourist sites in the city.
Han’s campaign office spokesman Ye Yuan-zhi (葉元之) said that although the egg did not hit Han, it splashed on a bodyguard and a supporter.
Han said that he would not hold anyone responsible for the incident and that everyone can express their opinion in a democracy, Ye added.
Democratic Progressive Party headquarters in a statement condemned any form of violence during campaign activities, and requested police to investigate the matter and protect the public’s safety.
Additional reporting by Jason Pan
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