The number of tourists arriving from China is expected to hit an average of 4,100 per day next week after the National Immigration Agency (NIA) adjusted the mechanism for calculating the daily quota for Chinese tourists allowed to visit Taiwan on Thursday, a Tourism Bureau official said yesterday.
On Thursday alone, 6,809 Chinese arrived in Taiwan, including 5,379 ordinary tourists and the latest group of 1,430 workers from Amway (China), Tourism Bureau statistics showed.
Arrivals of Chinese tourists have been increasing sharply since the middle of last month, the official said, citing statistics that show the daily number averaged 631 in January, 593 in February, 1,946 last month and 2,945 in the first half of this month.
The Tourism Bureau estimated that the weekly number of inbound tourists from China will set a new high of more than 28,700 from yesterday to Thursday.
Under an agreement reached last June, the number of Chinese allowed to visit Taiwan was capped at 3,000 per day, but arrivals late this month and next month are expected to exceed that number, the official said.
Therefore, the NIA has begun drawing from the 170,000 quota slots that went unused during the first three months of the year to provide additional places beyond the daily cap to meet demand.
Although the agreement with China stipulates that Taiwan is allowed to raise the daily ceiling for Chinese visitor arrivals one year after it opened its doors to Chinese tourists on July 4 last year, the Tourism Bureau has no plans to make permanent adjustments, said Janice Lai (賴瑟珍), director-general of the bureau.
With the daily number of Chinese tourists exceeding the 3,000 cap, the bureau will focus its efforts on ensuring that local travel agencies maintain high service standards and stick to a requirement that Chinese tourists be charged no less than US$60 per day, she said.
In order to cope with the problems of inadequate numbers of hotel rooms and tour buses to accommodate the anticipated influx of Chinese visitors, Lai said an additional 474 hotels and a number of homestays will be used to meet demand, while the bureau is studying the possibility of adding leisure farms with lodging facilities to their travel itineraries, Lai said.
The Directorate General of Highways is also evaluating a suggestion by tourism operators to relax a restriction that tour buses used to transport Chinese tourists must not have been in use for more than seven years, or in the case of coaches bought from the US and Europe, more than 10 years.