Agencies, lawmakers to hold public hearing over mainland visitors issue
By Kathryn Chiu,The China PostTAIPEI, Taiwan -- With regard to the impact of mainland China's new tourism law on Taiwan as well as Taiwan's expedited issuance of visas to mainland Chinese tourists, travel agencies and legislators will today hold a public hearing.
September 24, 2013, 12:17 am TWN
The number of mainland Chinese tourists applying to visit Taiwan has risen significantly since Sept. 10 due to major holidays on the horizon, while a new tourism law in mainland China, which will be implemented on Oct. 1, could make tours much more expensive.
The National Immigration Agency (NIA) has recently piled up approximately 20,000 Chinese visa applications, said the Travel Agent Association.
The NIA didn't arrange to complete the extra work with overtime, resulting in a pileup of applications and a loss in business for travel agencies, the association said.
The NIA dismissed the accusations and said that it can only process a maximum of 7,300 entry permits per day for mainland Chinese traveling in groups and 2,920 per day for mainland Chinese travelers visiting Taiwan on their own.
The Tourism Bureau told local media that the spike in mainland Chinese tourists is merely a seasonal phenomenon, adding that the number of Chinese tourists applying to travel in groups has actually declined after the Mid-Autumn Festival.
The bureau said that it has reached a consensus with the NIA to raise the daily maximum of individual Chinese travelers visiting Taiwan to 3,000 from the current 2,920.
The Taipei Association of Travel Agents has entrusted several legislators to organize a public hearing today, gathering representatives from the Executive Yuan, the NIA, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications.
From Sept. 10 to 15, an average of more than 8,000 mainland Chinese applied per day to visit Taiwan in groups, with applications peaking at nearly 18,000 on Sept. 13, according to United Evening News.
Those figures are much higher than the 5,000 to 7,000 applications previously received. The number of individual mainland Chinese travelers applying to visit Taiwan also rose from between 2,000 and 3,000 per day to between 4,000 and 5,000 on Sept. 13 and 14.
China's Tourism Law to Dampen Tourism Market
Travel agents attributed the spike to two holidays in mainland China — the Mid-Autumn Festival holiday from Sept. 19 to 21 and the National Day break from Oct. 1 to 7 — as well as Beijing's plan to enforce a new tourism law on Oct. 1.
The new law, which had been in development for roughly three decades, was finally passed in late April.
Although the law addresses key problems in mainland China's tourism market, such as unfair competition, local agencies believe that it will force them to increase the prices of their tours, possibly reducing demand in the short term.