Chinese tourist numbers are expected to decline a further 10 to 20 percent this year, mainly due to political reasons, the Travel Quality Assurance Association said yesterday, adding that Taiwan should think about attracting tourists from other countries.
Local media reported that due to politics and an earthquake in Hualien last month, China has suspended issuing travel permits for Chinese tour groups to Taiwan this month.
Beijing could also the limit the number of Chinese tour groups to Taiwan to 311,000 people between April and September.
According to the Chinese-language China Times, Chinese tour groups are banned from traveling in Taiwan from October to December, the association said, but added that Chinese tourists traveling independently would not be affected by the policy.
“It is possible that there will be no more Chinese tour groups this year,” said Cheng An Travel Service Co president Wu Pi-lian (吳碧蓮), who is in charge of monitoring the domestic tourism market for the association.
Travel agencies could make up for the loss by encouraging tour groups from Southeast Asian countries, she said.
“However, one Chinese tourist beats 10 Southeast Asian tourists when it comes to shopping,” she said.
The government and the travel industry should jointly find ways to attract tourists, such as promoting Taiwanese food, she said.
Based on experience, as it is an election year, Beijing would restrict the number of Chinese travelers in Taiwan, Harmony Travel executive director Lilien Lian (連郁卿) said.
Chinese tourists are now allowed to travel to 50 countries, Lian said, adding that many Chinese have visited Taiwan and might want to travel to other countries.
Andy Lim Travel Service Co owner Andy Lim (林家慶) said that China used to be the nation’s No. 1 source of tourists, but that it could soon be overtaken by Japanese and South Korean tourists if the government enhances marketing in those countries.
The number of Japanese and South Korean tourists has increased since last year, Lin said.
Streamlining the visa application procedures has helped increased tourists from Thailand and Vietnam.
The number of Singaporean and Malaysian visitors dropped slightly due to economic issues in both countries, Lin said, but added that there remains a steady growth in the number of independent travelers from both countries.
“Travel agencies should not put all their eggs in one basket, they need to diversify and local governments should develop tourist attractions to attract travelers,” Lin said.
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