Han claims he can bring 20 million tourists to Taiwan through closer China ties

KMT candidate promises to bring 20 million tourists to Taiwan by end of second term in 2028

Chinese tourists pose with flag on Quanfu Island.

Chinese tourists pose with flag on Quanfu Island. (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Kuomintang presidential candidate Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) on Sunday (Oct. 20) pledged to increase the number of foreign tourists to Taiwan to 20 million by 2028 by establishing closer ties with Communist China.

During a press conference on Sunday, Han claimed that by the end of his second term in office in 2028, he will have bought in 20 million tourists, by that time accounting for more than 8 percent of Taiwan's GDP, reported ETtoday. Former Premier Simon Chang (張善政), who leads Han's national policy advisory team and was in attendance during the press event, said that the first goal would be to double the percentage contributed to Taiwan's GDP by tourism from 4.4 percent to nearly 9 percent.

Chang noted that globally, tourism makes up 10 percent of the average country's GDP. Chang stated that the goal for 2024, the end of Han's first term if he is elected president, would be 15 million tourists, according to the report.

Chinese tourists at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. (Imgur photo)

Han's advisor said that President Tsai Ing-wen's (蔡英文) administration will soon announce its goal of having 20 million foreign tourists visit Taiwan by 2030. Chang bragged that by 2028, the end of Han's second hypothetical term, that number would be 20 million, two years earlier than Tsai's plan.

Han said that since Tsai has taken office, the number of visitors from China has dropped from about 4.2 million in 2016 to 2.7 million in 2018. Han remarked that in the first year of Tsai's tenure, 3,000 idle tourists buses were put on the auction block, and nearly 100 hoteliers went out of business.

According to Chang, once Han takes office, he will negotiate with China on relaxing restrictions on group and individual travelers to Taiwan. He said a Han administration would also work on allowing group tours and individual travelers from second- and third-tier Chinese cities, reported Storm Media.

Chang also said the Han administration would also launch large-scale infrastructure projects at airports and ports, expand the scale of the tourism development fund, and double the tourism budget to NT$10 billion within three years, reported ETtoday.

Despite the decline in tourists from China, Taiwan received an all-time high of 11 million foreign visitors in 2018, according to Tourism Bureau data. This was in part due to Taiwan encouraging visitors from other nations in the region by offering visa-free treatment to countries such as the Philippines, Thailand, and Brunei.