Mainland tourists shunning Taiwan
"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.