Chinese tourist numbers up for first time under Tsai

TRICKY FIGURES::The boost in Chinese tourists was helped by the Universiade, but a commentator cautioned against comparing numbers affected by last year’s bus fire

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Fri, Sep 22, 2017 - Page 3

The number of Chinese tourists visiting Taiwan rose by 0.59 percent to 249,999 last month, marking the first monthly increase since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office in May last year.

Statistics from the Tourism Bureau showed that the number of Chinese tourists had dropped from a total of 4.18 million in 2015 to 2.66 million last year.

The decline in Chinese tourists had shown double-digit percentage differences since May last year, dropping 12.21 percent in May, 32.41 percent in August, 44.30 percent in October and 32.64 percent in December compared with the same months in 2015.

The only decrease between January and April last year occurred in February, when the number of Chinese tourists dropped by 0.23 percent, the statistics showed.

Data from the bureau showed that the decline continued between January and July this year, with decreases of 30.22 percent in January, 50.09 percent in February, 44.60 percent in March, 42.97 percent in April, 38.31 percent in May, 30.25 percent in June and 20.86 percent in July.

Commenting on the first positive, albeit minor, increase, the bureau attributed the growth to the arrival of independent Chinese tourists as well as those arriving via tour groups (3.39 percent and 6.49 percent respectively).

Apart from summer vacation, events like the Taipei Summer Universiade have also encouraged some Chinese to visit, the bureau said.

The bureau is optimistic about the gradual rebound in Chinese visitors, as positive growth was also reported in the first week of this month, it added.

A freeway bus fire in July last year, which killed all 26 people on board, would have dissuaded many Chinese from visiting Taiwan, which would have in turn affected the number of visitors entering the nation in the months that followed, Quality Travel Development Association chairman Ringo Lee (李奇嶽) said.

Consequently, it is meaningless to compare the number of Chinese travelers last month with those in August last year, Lee said, adding that the industry expects a continuing decline in Chinese tourists.

Meanwhile, the number of Japanese and South Korean tourists dropped by 8 percent and 3 percent respectively last month, the data showed.

The decrease was due to a lack of flights, as many Taiwanese like to travel to Japan or South Korea during the summer, the bureau said.

The bureau said it has formed a 200-strong delegation with the Taiwan Visitors Association and other organizations to attend the Tourism Expo Japan in Tokyo, which opens today, adding that its goal of having 2 million Japanese tourists to visit Taiwan this year remains unchanged.

Significant growth in tourists also occurred for some of the natonis targeted in the government’s New Southbound policy last month.

The number of Vietnamese tourists rose by 85 percent to 31,684, and Philippine travelers increased by 50 percent to 19,711.

Double-digit growth was also seen in the number of tourists from Malaysia (27.52 percent), Singapore (17.41 percent) and Thailand (13.84 percent).

Overall, the nation welcomed 909,381 international travelers last month, rising 5.3 percent from a year earlier.