Main­land tourists shun­ning Tai­wan

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - By LUO WANGSHU lu­owang­shu@chi­nadaily.com.cnn

"The de­cline is mainly from group tourists, up to a 30 to 40 per­cent drop." Li Zhi, gen­eral man­ager, Tai­wan Cen­ter of China Youth Travel Ser­vice

Tai­wan is ex­pected to see fewer main­land tourists dur-ing the up­com­ing Na­tional Day hol­i­day, as cross-Straits rela-tions re­main in stale­mate. Book­ings for trips to Tai­wan dur­ing the hol­i­day from Oct 1 to Oct 7, also known as the Golden Week, dropped by 20 to 30 per­cent from last year, ac­cord­ing to the China Youth Travel Ser­vice, a ma­jor tourism op­er­a­tor in China. Mean­while, Tai­wan tour-ism pro­fes­sion­als are pre­dict-ing that the num­ber of main-land trav­el­ers may drop by 44 per­cent year-on-year in 2016, ac­cord­ing to me­dia reports. “The de­cline is mainly from group tourists, up to a 30 to 40 per­cent drop,” said Li Zhi, gen­eral man­ager of the Tai­wan cen­ter of China Youth Travel Ser­vice, adding that the num-ber of tourists trav­el­ing inde-pen­dently has risen, but the rate of in­crease has slowed com­pared with pre­vi­ous years. About 1,000 clients booked through the ser­vice for the Golden Week hol­i­day, in­clud-ing group trips, ho­tels and doc­u­ment prepa­ra­tion. Since 2008, when the is­land opened up to main­land travel-ers, the num­ber of in­de­pen-dent tourists had in­creased by at least 15 to 20 per­cent. But this year, the rise is only about 10 to 15 per­cent, Li said.He added that seats usu­ally are sold out be­fore Septem-ber, but this year seats have re­mained un­taken right be­fore the hol­i­day at month’s end. Ctrip, a ma­jor on­line trav-el ser­vices provider, also has seen the change. The com­pany re­ported that reser­va­tions to Tai­wan have dropped. It also pre­dicted that Tai­wan’s tour-ism-de­pen­dent busi­nesses may have their “cold­est” Golden Week dur­ing this Na­tional Day hol­i­day. “The prepa­ra­tion time needed to visit Tai­wan has been re­duced, mainly be­cause there are no lines for the en­try pass. Pre­vi­ously, cus­tomers dur­ing Golden Week in Octo-ber booked six to eight weeks in ad­vance, but now they can book four weeks be­fore,” said Sun Yu, head of the Tai­wan re­gion for Ctrip. A travel ad­vi­sory from the com­pany called Tai­wan “a good choice for tourists who want to avoid pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tions and seek peace and quiet. ”Tai­wan’s China Times news-pa­per re­ported this month that the is­land saw 30,771 main­land vis­i­tors dur­ing the Na­tional Day hol­i­day in 2014 and 35,891 vis­i­tors last year. How­ever, Tai-wan tourism pro­fes­sion­als have pre­dicted that the num­ber may drop be­low 20,000 this year, 44.3 per­cent less than last year. Main­land tourism in­dus-try offi cials said the de­cline is mainly due to diffi cult cross-Straits re­la­tions and a num­ber of neg­a­tive in­ci­dents since May 20, such as a fa­tal bus fire and the er­ro­neous launch of a mis-sile that hit a fi shing boat, kill-ing the cap­tain and in­jur­ing three of the crew. “Group tourists who are mainly above 40 years old are aff ected mostly. They are more sen­si­tive to pol­i­tics. Com­para-tively, young trav­el­ers are less keen on pol­i­tics, but the nega-tive in­for­ma­tion in some ways also aff ects them,” Li of the Chi-na Youth Travel Ser­vice said.The num­ber of main­land vis­i­tors to the is­land has plum-meted since Tai­wan leader Tsai Ing-wen took of­fice in May. Ac­cord­ing to Tai­wan au­thori-ties, main­land tourists in group tours de­clined by about 30 per-cent year-on-year in the pe­riod from May through July.Liu Xiang­ping, head of the In­sti­tute of Tai­wan Stud­ies at Nan­jing Univer­sity, said the is­land’s author­ity has con­trib-uted to an at­mos­phere that has “con­vinced” res­i­dents that visi-tors from the main­land are not well-be­haved tourists. “The at­ti­tude makes main-land trav­el­ers feel un­wel­come and lose in­ter­est in Tai­wan,” he said.

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