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Chinese tourist arrivals in Taiwan drop

The number of Chinese tourists to Taiwan has dropped in the past two months possibly because of the individual Chinese tourist program that took effect in late June, a travel agency said Thursday.

The latest statistics from the Tourism Bureau show that the number of Chinese tourist arrivals in May was 150,479, a 16.12 percent decrease year-on-year. The figures for June show a year-on-year drop of 27.94 percent to 70,320.

Chen Chen-hung, a representative of Comfort Travel Service Co., said there was a significant difference between the number of Chinese applying to visit Taiwan and the number that actually visit.

This is probably because Chinese visitors are confused about the two different types of entry permits for group and individual travel to Taiwan, he said.

In addition, a food scare in Taiwan in late May, spurred by the discovery of plasticizer-tainted products, and a train accident on Alishan in April that killed five Chinese tourists may have affected visitor arrivals from China, he said.

The secretary-general of the Travel Agent Association of Taiwan Hsu Kao-ching (許高慶) noted that the fact that because the decreasing price of tourist groups could also have caused such drop in visitors. The fewer tourist groups the travel agency provides in the current low rate, Hsu said, the less monetary loss they would face.

Now that the individual tourist program is in effect, a great number of Beijing, Shanghai, and Xiamen residents who intend to visit Taiwan could very likely have decided to travel by themselves instead of visiting with a travel agency, Lee Chia-yin (李嘉寅), head of the Phoenix Tours, said. That the potential visitors are waiting in line for the individual program could also be a factor that caused the drop in the number of Chinese tourists over the past few months, he said.

The tourism industry has a negative outlook for July and August, the peak travel period, forecasting that the number of Chinese tourists to Taiwan may drop further by 20 percent, Chen said.

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 Chinese tourist arrivals in Taiwan drop 
A chef serves a mainland Chinese tourist at the Grand Hi-lai Hotel in Kaohsiung, yesterday. The hotel, eyeing the business potential of visits by individual mainland visitors, has invested NT$100 million in a buffet restaurant which serves up more than 100 different courses each day. The restaurant also features a 100-foot-long dinner table. (CNA)

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