Taipei, Feb. 11 (CNA) The number of Chinese tourists arrivals in Taiwan reached 2.73 million in 2016, down 18 percent compared to the previous year, but dropping a more severe 33 percent since May, when Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) came into power, according to the Ministry of the Interior, which released the latest statistics Saturday.
The statistics showed that a total of 3,473,000 Chinese visitors arrived in Taiwan in 2016, 2.73 million of whom, or 78.8 percent, came for tourism, while others visited for professional exchanges or medical treatment.
Compared with the whole year of 2015, there were 600,000 fewer Chinese tourists, dropping 18 percent. But comparing the period of May, when Tsai took office, to December last year, with the same period in 2015, there were 739,925 fewer Chinese tourists, a more severe drop of 33 percent, showed the statistics compiled by the National Immigration Agency under the ministry.
Besides tourists, Chinese visitor arrivals overall also dropped in 2016, down 16.2 percent compared with 2015.
For example, there were 41,000 fewer Chinese people who visited for professional exchanges during the whole of last year, compared to 2015.
The drop in Chinese visitors came amid strained relations between Taiwan and mainland China.
Cross-strait relations have cooled since Tsai took office in May 2016, mainly due to her refusal to heed Beijing's calls to recognize the "1992 consensus" as the sole foundation for cross-strait exchanges.
The consensus refers to a tacit understanding reached in 1992 between China and Taiwan, which was then under a Kuomintang government, that there is only one China, with both sides free to interpret what that means.
Beijing sees acceptance of the consensus as a precondition for developing relations and the political foundation for cross-strait exchanges.
Faced with the drop in Chinese tourists, Taiwan has been seeking to attract more visitors from Southeast Asia, through measures such as streamlining visa procedures for people from those countries.
As a result of these measures, the number of foreign visitors to Taiwan in 2016 increased by 2.4 percent to a record high of 10.69 million despite the drop in Chinese tourists.
But tourism industry statistics have shown that Chinese tourists, especially those coming in tour groups, tend to spend more money here.
Despite the overall drop in Chinese tourists, those who took advantage of the mini-three links to visit Taiwan's outlying islands of Kinmen, Matsu and Penghu increased by 12,000, the ministry said.
About 256,000 of the Chinese visitors who came here last year, visited through Taiwan's outlying islands of Kinmen, Matsu and Penghu using the mini-three links across the Taiwan Strait, the ministry said, adding that this represented 7.4 percent of the total Chinese visitor arrivals in Taiwan.
Meanwhile, 133,000 Chinese nationals visited Taiwan last year for professional exchanges, accounting for 3.8 percent of the total, the ministry said.
(By Elaine Hou and Hsieh Chia-chen)ENDITEM/cs