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Taipei allows more individual visitors from Mainland China following a ban on forced shopping tours

Banned on forced shopping stops for Chinese visiting Taiwan by Mainland China  had curiously a positive effect on Taiwanese authorities. They relaxed the rules for welcoming individual travellers from the Mainland. And probably helping then to raise the quality of Chinese visitors…

TAIPEI – Taiwan tourism is turning increasingly dependent of Mainland China. In October 2013, a third of all arrivals to Taiwan were coming from China PRC, far ahead of Japan (18.8 % market share in October 2013) or Hong Kong /Macao (13.5% in market share). Last year, China PRC became Taiwan largest source market with a total of 2.6 million travellers. Mainland Chinese tourists pumped over US$2.9 billion in 2012 into the Taiwanese economy.

But stricter rules from the Chinese authorities to protect its travelling citizens have a negative impact on Taiwanese tourism activities. Beijing felt increasingly concerned about Chinese travellers being forced to join shopping tours in their itinerary. Until October 1st, many package tours included this compulsory shopping visit to dubious shops, in a way to subsidize circuits in Taiwan. China enacted then the law to curb these unlawful practices.  Consequently, with the banning of shopping itineraries, tour operators in China have raised their prices for packages, resulting in an abrupt fall in total arrivals to Taiwan from Mainlanders. According to figures released by Taiwan’s Tourism Bureau, the number of Chinese arrivals in groups in October plunged by as much as 33% from a year ago to 3,043 a day. First figures for November show a further drop by 24 % compared to the same month of 2012.

To compensate the fall in group arrivals, Taiwanese authorities have raised the quota for individual travellers by 1,000 to 3,000 a day. The information was officially announced by the Island’s government in a statement after the Cabinet approved the move. The quota for group tour members remains unchanged at 5,000 a day. The new limit is active since December 1st. By allowing more individuals from Mainland China, Taipei is likely to see a growth in quality travellers from its powerful neighbour. At the end, this is not such a bad idea!

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Luc Citrinot a French national is a freelance journalist and consultant in tourism and air transport with over 20 years experience. Based in Paris and Bangkok, he works for various travel and air transport trade publications in Europe and Asia.