Kinmen drawing more Chinese visitors despite fewer visiting Taiwan

Houhu Seashore Park. (Image courtesy of Kinmen County government)

Houhu Seashore Park. (Image courtesy of Kinmen County government)

Taipei, Sept. 14 (CNA) Taiwan's outlying Kinmen Island has drawn more Chinese visitors, and for the first time the figure has exceeded that of Taiwanese visitors, but most of them are staying in Kinmen and not using it as a stepping stone to visit Taiwan, the offshore county government said on Friday.

During the first eight months of this year, a total of 755,353 visitors (including those transferring to and from Taiwan) visited Kinmen, up 6 percent from the same period last year, the county government said in a statement.

Some 480,000 of them -- 250,000 from China and 230,000 from Taiwan -- were holiday goers. This marked the first time that the number of tourists from China has exceeded that from Taiwan despite tensions between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, according to the county government.

Kinmen enjoyed an increase in Chinese visitors even as Taiwan as a whole saw a big drop in mainland tourists since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office in May 2016, due to Beijing and Chinese people's dissatisfaction over her refusal to accept the 1992 Consensus, under which China defines Taiwan and the mainland as part of one China.

In 2017, 1,085,456 visitors (including transfer passengers) visited Kinmen, 789,522 of whom were holiday goers -- an increase of 296,549 from 2016 and nearly double the level of 396,418 recorded in 2015, the Kinmen government said, citing statistics compiled by its Tourism Department. Many of the visitors were from mainland China.

The county government attributed the rise in holiday goers, especially those from China, to the efforts made by county Magistrate Chen Fu-hai (陳福海).

Over the past few years, Chen has been keen to promote Kinmen as a tourist destination and has tried very hard to lure Chinese holiday goers to Kinmen, which lies only a few kilometers off China's Fujian Province, it said.

As a result, the number of holiday goers from China has increased, the county government noted.

But the number of Chinese passengers who go on to Taiwan after visiting Kinmen has dropped.

Looking to the future, Kinmen will further improve the ferry services between the island and China's Fujian Province as a means of attracting more Chinese tourists and will continue to build Kinmen into an international holiday resort by exploring its unique culture, Tourism Department Director-General Chen Mei-ling (陳美齡) said.