Travel industry asks Taiwan’s government to tackle fall in mainland Chinese tourists since President Tsai Ing-wen took office
Taiwan tourism industry representatives took to the streets of Taipei on Monday to press the government to tackle the decline in the number of mainland Chinese visitors since the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party came to power in May.
Emphasising that the 1.5km march to Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the presidential office was not a “protest” but a “peaceful and rational way of expressing the industry’s thinking”, event spokesman Ringo Lee said, “We want survival, we want jobs and we want food on the table.”
The demonstration was the first to be organised by the island’s tourism industry since a ban on mainland Chinese visitors to Taiwan was partially lifted in 2008, after then president Ma Ying-jeou of the Kuomintang (KMT) was first elected on a platform of seeking friendlier ties with Beijing.
The number of mainland visitors to Taiwan for both tourism and business then quadrupled, from 1 million in 2008 to 4 million last year, amid improved bilateral ties. However, relations with Beijing have stalled since President Tsai Ing-wen of the DPP took office in May.
Statistics show the number of mainland tourists dropped by 15 per cent in July from the same ¬period a year earlier.
Tour guide Hung Guo-ron said that while he previously had three to four groups of mainland tourists every month, he had not had any customers for the past two months.
Hung said if Tsai would only recognise the “1992 consensus” – an understanding reached that year by Taiwan’s then-ruling KMT and the Communist Party of China that there is only “one China”, despite both governments claiming legitimacy – it would surely have some positive impact.
“We hope the government will give us the fishing rod,” he said.
A representative of the travel agencies, who asked to be identified only as Wang, doubted Tsai would recognise the consensus and said yesterday’s march was unlikely to have much impact.
If the situation did not improve, he predicted, at least a fifth of the travel agencies catering to mainland tourists like his company would go belly up after the Lunar New Year.