Shopping ban to cut tour groups 20%

THINKING LONG-TERM::The ban will make Chinese group tourism more expensive by eliminating commissions, but is expected to enhance the experience of Chinese tourists

Staff writer, with CNA

Sat, Sep 07, 2013 - Page 5

A new law in China that bans travel agencies from arranging shopping trips for tourist groups will have a short-term impact on the tourism market in Taiwan, but will bring positive developments in the long run, representatives of the local tourism industry said.

The law, to be implemented starting on Oct. 1, is likely to have a short-term impact on Taiwanese travel agencies due to the possibility of a decrease in the number of Chinese tourist groups coming to Taiwan, Travel Agents Association chairman Yao Ta-kuang (姚大光) said.

The number of Chinese tourist groups visiting Taiwan is expected to drop by at least 20 percent after the implementation of the law, according to travel industry estimates.

The reduction is expected because travel agencies will need to raise prices for Chinese tour groups as they will no longer be able to obtain commissions from the stores they put on their shopping itineraries, Ivan Lin (林聰敏) of China Travel Service said.

For example, the cost per person for a tour group from southeastern China is about 3,000 Chinese yuan (US$490), but this might be increased to as much as 7,000 yuan following implementation of the law, Lin said.

However, both Yao and Lin said that from a long-term perspective, the new law would bring positive developments to local tourism.

The Tourism Bureau also said that increased travel costs will reduce the number of Chinese groups visiting Taiwan.

However, from the long-term perspective of cross-strait tourism, the new law will help improve the quality of travel in Taiwan, the bureau said.

Many travel agencies have been offering lower prices in a bid to attract clients, but they usually include shopping trips on their travel itineraries to boost profits by earning commissions from the stores to which they bring their groups.

While some Chinese tourists welcome the opportunity to shop for souvenirs, many complain they do not have enough time to see the sights as a result of too many shopping stops.

Meanwhile, the bureau said it will continue to make efforts to attract independent travelers from China, who will be unaffected by the new law.

In the long term, the number of Chinese travelers to Taiwan will continue to grow, it predicted.

Taiwan attracted a record 2.23 million visitors from China last year. During the first six months of this year, nearly 1.4 million Chinese visitors came to Taiwan.