KMT-led cities to see surge in Chinese tourism: source

SOUTHERN SHIFT::Chinese tourism authorities allegedly plan to divert Chinese travelers from Taipei to Kaohsiung, with more tourists to arrive through Kaohsiung’s airport

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

Sat, Dec 22, 2018 - Page 3

China is promoting tourism to cities where Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) candidates won in the Nov. 24 elections, a source in the tourism industry said earlier this week.

Some had been expecting up to 4 million Chinese to visit Taiwan next year — a three-year high — but China has said it would not allow an increase in tourism to Taiwan during the administration of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), the source said on condition of anonymity.

Taichung, Kaohsiung and Yilan County are to see an increase in the number of Chinese visitors next year, but China would divert Taipei and New Taipei City-bound tour groups to those destinations, rather than allow an increase in tourism to the nation, the source said.

China’s National Tourism Administration has since October been in talks with large industry operators in KMT-led cities, the source said, adding that during the latest meeting, earlier this month, the Chinese side indicated that Kaohsiung would be the primary destination in its tourism plans.

The Chinese tourism authority acknowledged that it has been boycotting Taiwan and that it felt the elections’ outcomes proved the strategy’s effectiveness, the source said.

It hopes to reward Kaohsiung voters, but wanted to do it in a way that would not allow Tsai to benefit, the source said.

Penghu, where KMT commissioner candidate Lai Feng-wei (賴峰偉) was elected last month, is to see an increase in visitors arriving by ship, the source said, adding that Hualien, where KMT commissioner-elect Hsu Chen-wei (徐榛蔚) is to take office, would see Chinese tourists arrive on chartered flights.

China’s manipulation of Taiwan-bound tourism has had profound consequences for local politics that are growing increasingly pervasive, Providence University Department of Tourism associate professor Huang Cheng-tsung (黃正聰) said.

The government’s response to China’s cutting off tourist flows over the past two years has been too slow and ineffective, he said.

Southern Taiwan was hit especially hard and early subsidies from the government were insufficient and hard to apply for, Huang said, adding that more recent subsidies were well-received, but too late for many operators.

It is possible that overall Chinese tourist numbers could increase by 15 percent next year, with a possible 30 percent increase in Kaohsiung alone, Huang said.

Chung Hsing Travel Service director Lee Chi-yueh (李奇嶽) said he expects an overall increase of 20 to 30 percent in Chinese tourist numbers next year.

Even tourists visiting other cities are likely to enter and leave through Kaohsiung, Lee added.

Chinese tourist numbers peaked in 2015, with 4.18 million visiting Taiwan, Tourism Bureau data showed.

There were 3.51 million Chinese visitors to Taiwan in 2016, 2.73 million last year and 2.25 million in the year to date, the data showed.