More than 646,000 Chinese have made sightseeing trips to Taiwan in the 18 months since the government relaxed regulations on Chinese tourists in July 2008, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said yesterday.
Though the number of Chinese tourists has risen steadily, it was expected to grow even more once Taiwan and China swap offices governing tourism and travel affairs, the council said.
“Once established, the tourism offices will offer faster, more convenient and more efficient services to cross-strait tourists,” a council official said.
Between July 2008 and Dec. 31 last year, 26,488 Chinese tour groups — a total of 646,783 people — visited Taiwan, mostly on eight-day, seven-night tours.
With daily individual spending estimated at US$250, the tourists have contributed roughly US$1.13 billion to the economy, the council said.
However, the number of Chinese tourists has not reached the average quota of 3,000 per day.
Such a number was not significant in the beginning, council officials said, but following closer communications and coordination efforts between tourism officials and travel agencies on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, Chinese tourist arrivals rose to about 3,000 per day last April and May.
The numbers declined slightly in August because of Typhoon Morakot, and the impact of the influenza A (H1N1) epidemic, before picking up again in November, the council said.
“Now the average number of inbound Chinese tourists stands at about 2,000 daily,” the official said.
The council said only 20 Chinese tourists went missing from their tours in the past 19 months, compared to figures from before 2008, when an average of 36 out of every 100,000 Chinese entering the country absconded.
Only two of the 20 have been found, the council said.
Chinese were the second largest group of foreign visitors to Taiwan last year.
Japanese were first, with 972,213 arrivals, including 606,174 tourists.
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