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Taiwan can 'drive China to change' by welcoming independent tourists

2011/06/01 19:04:38

Taipei, June 1 (CNA) A prominent Taiwanese hotelier thinksindependent Chinese tourists "will definitely make a positive andfar-reaching impact" on cross-Taiwan Strait relations and Taiwancould "drive them to change."

Winston F.C. Shen, chief executive officer of Hotel Royal Group,made his remarks in an interview with CNA NewsWorld magazine, amonthly publication of the Central News Agency.

He said in the latest issue of the magazine that the independentChinese tourists who will soon be allowed to come to Taiwan willcreate "cultural impacts" on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

Taiwan is expected to welcome the first group of free-travelingChinese by the end of this month. Currently, they must join tourgroups arranged by tourism agencies in order to visit Taiwan.

Since 2009, China has overtaken Japan as the biggest source oftourism for Taiwan. Exchanges between Taiwan and China will "suddenlybecome really close" with the arrival of independent tourists, Fangsaid.

Taiwan's attraction lies in its grassroots culture, said Fang.While old Shanghai has largely been destroyed, Taiwan has kept its"old cultural corridors" intact, allowing mainland visitors to getsoaked into Taiwanese daily life.

Community rejuvenation campaigns across Taiwan can benefit fromlarge numbers of Chinese tourists and backpackers, whose arrival willinject new economic life into these ailing communities, Fang said.

Compared with Japanese, mainland Chinese visitors do not have alanguage barrier in Taiwan, he said. So they can explore all aspectsof life throughout the island.

On some opposition lawmakers' criticism that mainland Chinesetourists are too boisterous and sometimes lack manners, Fang said"the Taiwanese have gone through that 20 years ago" and that "theability to blame others is not a source of strength. The power toinfluence comes from tolerance."

"I think influence arises during an encounter of people from two(different) cultures. The people in the higher-level culturedemonstrates tolerance and friendliness to increase the understandingof those from another culture, and from here, we can change them," hesaid.

The hotelier observed that while in Taiwan, Chinese tourists maynot feel the difference. "But when they return to their country, theywill likely have new ideas (about Taiwan) and go ahead to influencepeople around them."

Fang believes that once they have developed friendship with theTaiwanese, the Chinese will not so easily be indoctrinated bygovernment-sponsored nationalism and populism because they will think"this is not the right way to treat Taiwan."

Therefore, Fang said, the people in Taiwan should act as acatalyst to "drive them to change."

Fang runs six hotels in Taiwan and one each in Mauritius,Nicaragua and Palau. He has years of experience in accommodatingChinese visitors.

The June issue of CNA NewsWorld gives extensive coverage ofTaiwan's state of readiness in welcoming independent Chinese tourists-- offering practical suggestions to Chinese visitors, recommendinghow hosts should look after their guests, and looking at the economicimpact of the new policy on local industries.

More than 3 million Chinese have visited Taiwan since July 2008-- mostly arriving in tour groups. The number of Chinese visitors isexpected to rise sharply with the onset of the free, independenttravel program.

(By Chang Shu-ling and S.C. Chang)