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Taiwan's tourism industry feels chill

China Daily | Updated: 2017-10-11 07:27

TAIPEI - The colored glaze art on display glimmers on the shelf at a souvenir shop at Sun Moon Lake in central Taiwan, but few tourists are around to appreciate it.

"I have no idea where the Chinese mainland tourists are now. The streets here used to be full of them during the weeklong holiday," said Shih Mei-yen, the shop's owner.

The shop could make at least NT$1 million ($33,000) per month. But now it makes only about NT$300,000, she said.

Shih is not the only vendor in Taiwan feeling the impact of a sharp decrease of Chinese mainland tourists. Amy Lin, who runs a hotel in the Sun Moon Lake region, saw mainland customers drop by more than half during the early October holiday, especially those on package tours.

An online survey found that more than 400 hotels and B&Bs across the island had been put up for sale after sharp declines in customers.

About 1.75 million people from the Chinese mainland visited Taiwan from January to August, down by more than one-third year-on-year, according to the island's tourism authority.

The island is working to attract visitors from Southeast Asia, South Asia, Australia and New Zealand to sustain its limping tourism market.

That's not a cure-all, however. Tourism data show that travelers from the Chinese mainland spend nearly $200 in Taiwan daily per person, while tourists from Southeast Asia spend only about $150 per person.

More than 6 million people traveled overseas during the recent National Day holiday, with Moscow, St. Petersburg, Bangkok, Pattaya and Singapore being the most popular cities, according to the China National Tourism Administration.

Lu Shiao-ya, director of the island's association for the tour bus industry, said the number of mainland tourists will continue to fall unless cross-Straits ties improve.

For Shih, the shop owner, the impact is direct: "We are both Chinese and we are family. I just hope more Chinese mainland tourists will come here and shop here," she said.


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