China: Chinese tourist arrivals in Taiwan drop

The number of Chinese tourists to Taiwan has dropped in the past two months possibly because of the Free Independent Traveler (FIT) program for Chinese visitors that took effect in late June, a travel agency said Thursday.

The latest statistics from the Tourism Bureau show that the number of Chinese tourist arrivals in May was 150,479, a 16.12 percent decrease year-on-year. The figures for June show a year-on-year drop of 27.94 percent to 70,320.

Chen Chen-hung, a representative of Comfort Travel Service Co., said there was a significant difference between the number of Chinese applying to visit Taiwan and the number that actually visit.

This is probably because Chinese visitors are confused about the two different types of entry permits for group and independent travel to Taiwan, he said.

Another reason for the slow season is that some Chinese tourists delayed their travel plans earlier in the year to wait for the implementation of the FIT program, Chen said.

In addition, a food scare in Taiwan in late May, spurred by the discovery of plasticizer-tainted products, and a train accident on Alishan in April that killed five Chinese tourists may have affected visitor arrivals from China, he said.

The tourism industry has a negative outlook for July and August, the peak travel period, forecasting that the number of Chinese tourists to Taiwan may drop further by 20 percent, Chen said.