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May 28, 2017

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Nation lags HK in battle for Chinese tourists

TAIPEI -- Taiwan will not replace Hong Kong as a favorite destination for Chinese tourists in the next few years unless it loosens quota restrictions and invests more in hardware and infrastructure, Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a recent report.

According to the National Immigration Agency, Chinese visitors to Taiwan exceeded 50,000 during China's Oct. 1-7 "Golden Week" this year — the second since Taiwan's introduction of the Chinese Free Independent Traveler scheme in June 2011.

The figure represents a 149 percent annual increase compared with the 21,611 Chinese tourists who visited during last year's Golden Week, according to the data.

Of the total, 39,143 were part of group tours, while 14,732 visited as individual tourists, a rise of 103 percent and 517 percent, respectively, from a year ago.

"This big leap in independent tourist numbers resembles the situation in Hong Kong in 2003, when the individual visit scheme was introduced there," said Marcella Chow, a Hong Kong-based economist at Merrill Lynch.

"However, as the quota system is still in place and the hardware (such as hotels and other related infrastructure) in Taiwan needs to catch up, we believe Hong Kong's leading position will go unchallenged for a while longer," he wrote in the report.

The scheme in Hong Kong does not set a quota limit and triggered an immediate surge in the number of visitors traveling to Hong Kong from China, the report said.

From July 28 to Nov. 4, 2003, more than 600,000 individuals from China applied to visit Hong Kong and 450,000 visas were issued, according to the report. The number of visitors under the scheme reached 2 million in May 2004.

However, a maximum of just 500 Chinese per day were allowed to enter Taiwan for two-week visits when Taiwan launched the Free Independent Traveler scheme in June 2011, the report said.

With a further relaxation in restrictions on cross-Taiwan Strait tourism, Taiwan has increased the daily quota to 1,000, while allowing up to 4,000 to enter as part of tour groups.

"Given the quota system, the number of Chinese tourists coming to Taiwan is capped and remains too small to contribute significantly to growth," Chow said.

One reason behind the government's reluctance to relax quota restrictions during the Golden Week holiday was to prevent tourism resources from being overstretched, thereby bringing down the quality of the tours, Chow noted.

October 15, 2012    in.sanxia@
We also need clean public bathrooms, streets that are safe for pedestrians, beautiful places to be, an accessible water front and police that will keep motor scooters off the sidewalks.
October 18, 2012    patrick@
The overwhelming stench of toilet waste outside some leading stores and hotels must also be addressed. Walking along Nanjing E Road sect 3 is like being alongside an open sewer in places. I agree we need more footpaths. The police on traffic duty are ineffectual and fail completely to enforce red lights and ignore so much that snarls up Taipei. Only when these basic issues are addressed can I have confidence to welcome groups to Taipei.
October 20, 2012    hsiehmingyu@
Frankly I don't really want more Chinese tourists to Taiwan. Many are rude, loud, impolite, cheap, and downright arrogant.
October 21, 2012    miller.henry641@
"...and police that will keep motor scooters off the sidewalks."

Oh you are a dreamer aren't you!
October 22, 2012    curtisakbar@
The last thing Taiwan needs is more Chinese, we already have enough.... bout 20million isn't it? :P
October 25, 2012    trumpcard_2000@
But then Hong Kong is an ultra-modern city compared with a villager-style Taiwan. To the Chinese, Hong Kong is a sign of modernity and Taiwan is a sign of political by-gone days. Different types of tourists for two different locations.
November 1, 2012    sandyshi@
What!! Chinese tourists in Taiwan. Has this shift in policy been debated in the Taiwanese parliament, or it is simply being forced upon?
It is utterly stupid and downright negligent to allow a regime citizens into Taiwan when there are thousands of missiles targeted against a country that is still technically at war.
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