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New Chinese travel law will impact tourism in Taiwan: industry

2013/09/05 21:30:30

Taipei, Sept. 5 (CNA) A new law in China that bans travel agencies from arranging shopping trips for tourist groups will have a short-term impact on the tourism market in Taiwan but will bring positive developments in the long run, representatives of the local tourism industry said Thursday.

The law, to be implemented Oct. 1, is likely to have a short-term impact on Taiwanese travel agencies due to the possibility of a decrease in the number of Chinese tourist groups coming to Taiwan, said Yao Ta-kuang, chairman of the Travel Agent Association of the Republic of China.

The number of Chinese tourist groups visiting Taiwan is expected to drop by at least 20 percent after the implementation of the law, according to Taiwanese travel industry estimates.

The reduction is expected because travel agencies will need to raise prices for Chinese tourist groups as they will no longer be able to obtain commissions from the stores they put on their shopping itineraries, said Ivan Lin from the China Travel Service.

For example, cost per person for a tourist group from southeastern China is around 3,000 Chinese yuan (US$490), but this might be increased to as much as 7,000 yuan following implementation of the law, Lin said.

However, both Yao and Lin shared the view that from a long-term perspective, the new law "is a good thing" that will bring positive developments to local tourism.

Taiwan's Tourism Bureau also said that increased travel costs will reduce the number of Chinese groups visiting Taiwan.

But from a long-term perspective of cross-Taiwan Strait tourism, the new law will help improve the quality of travel in Taiwan, the bureau said.

Many travel agencies have been offering lower prices in a bid to lure clients, but they usually include shopping trips on their travel itineraries in order to boost profits by earning commissions from the stores to which they bring their clients.

While some Chinese tourists welcome the opportunity to shop for souvenirs, many complain they don't have enough time to see the sights as a result of too many shopping stops.

Meanwhile, the bureau said it will continue to make efforts to attract independent travelers from China, who will be unaffected by the new law.

From the long-term perspective, the number of Chinese travelers to Taiwan will continue to grow, it predicted.

Taiwan attracted a record 2.23 million visitors from China in 2012. During the first six months of this year, nearly 1.4 million Chinese visitors came to Taiwan.

(By Lin Shen-hsu and Elaine Hou)