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Chinese visitors to Taiwan down 15% in May

2016/06/03 15:20:06

Taipei, June 3 (CNA) The number of Chinese nationals who visited Taiwan fell noticeably in May, when the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), considered less friendly to China than the previous Kuomintang regime, took power.

There were 15 percent fewer Chinese who visited Taiwan in May than the 372,766 Chinese who arrived in May 2015, with group tourists down 31 percent year-on-year, according to government sources familiar with the matter.

But the number of travelers from China visiting Taiwan on their own rather than as part of a tour group rose by 12 percent in May from the year-earlier period, the sources said Friday.

There have been rumors since DPP President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) was elected in mid-January that China would reduce the numbers of its citizens visiting Taiwan to put pressure on the new DPP government.

More than 4.18 million Chinese visited the country in 2015, accounting for 40 percent of all foreign visitor arrivals, and have a heavy economic impact on businesses catering to tour groups.

Despite the rumors, overall Chinese visitor numbers were still on the rise in April, up 4.8 percent from a year earlier at more than 370,000 people, according to Tourism Bureau statistics.

But group tour visitor numbers had already begun to decline, falling 2.9 percent year-on-year.

A B&B operator in Hualien City surnamed Huang told CNA that she felt fewer Chinese have visited Hualien since the second half of last year and had heard that several B&Bs catering to Chinese tour groups outside the city have been shut down or put up for sale.

Three days after taking office on May 23, Transportation Minister Ho Chen Tan (賀陳旦) said Chinese travelers have become an "uncertain" factor in terms of Taiwan's tourism, admitting that the number of travelers from China was gradually declining.

On May 31, however, Ho Chen said that a drop in Chinese visitor arrivals will not affect business development policies or the expansion of Taoyuan International Airport.

(By Chen Chia-lun and Elizabeth Hsu)
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