Taiwan to raise daily quota for mainland group tourists to 5,000

The island will allow 5,000 group tourists from across the strait to visit each day, up from 4,000

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 March, 2013, 5:15am

Taiwan will increase the quota for mainland tourists allowed for group visits to the island from 4,000 to 5,000 a day from May, unconcerned by the problems caused by an influx of mainland tourists to Hong Kong, a tourism official said yesterday.

But to ensure that mainland tourists have enjoyable visits, the island's Tourism Bureau has revised a set of regulations aimed at improving the quality of group tours by mainlanders, a bureau spokeswoman said.

"We have revised relevant regulations in a bid to increase the quality of local tours organised for mainland tourists," she said, adding the draft regulations would soon be approved by the island's transport ministry.

The regulations, expected to be implemented next month, say organised, daily tours for mainland visitors cannot exceed 12 hours and the buses carrying them should not travel more than 250 kilometres to ensure that they do not spend most of their time on the road.

Lunches and dinners provided for each tourist must not cost less than NT$500 (HK$130) a day, while accommodation should be arranged at star-rated hotels.

Many Hongkongers have complained about mainlanders taking over tourism areas in the city but Taiwan is looking to take advantage of the huge market from across the strait.

Since Taiwan opened up to mainland tourists in 2008, more than 95 per cent of the visitors have arrived in groups. With more and more tourist agencies fighting for a slice of the market, problems have surfaced from the cut-throat competition.

There have been reports that some restaurants had added food left over by earlier tour groups to the dishes served for the next round of mainland visitors because of the cut-price deals demanded by tour organisers.

Poor quality tours have resulted in a number of mainland tourists leaving with poor impressions of Taiwan.

"We had to get up earlier than roosters, eat even worse than hogs and sleep in stinky shelters for dogs," one mainland tourist lamented.

Since July 2008, more than 4.83 million mainland tourists have visited Taiwan, spending more than NT$243.3 billion. Last year, 2.6 million mainlanders visited Taiwan, a 45 per cent increase on the number of visitors from 2011.

Tourism officials said Taiwan would also double the quota for individual mainland tourists to 2,000 a day, believing it could help provide a boost for high-end restaurants, hotels and other expensive tourism facilities usually shunned by the organisers of group tours.