Friday, January 14, 2011

Individual Chinese tourists to Taiwan: When and how

l  Despite earlier reports to the contrary, the timetable for allowing Chinese citizens to travel to Taiwan individually—without being confined to tour groups of at least five people—has yet to be finalized.

l  Though Beijing and Taipei have reached a consensus, in principle, on opening Taiwan's travel market to individual Chinese tourists, both sides, however, have not yet finalized when and where a trial run would take place.

l  Both sides had earlier agreed that China would begin allowing up to 1000 residents a day from Beijing and Shanghai—in addition to the 4000 per day limit for group travels—to visit Taiwan individually by early April, which would occasion the traditional “tomb sweeping” recess in memory of family ancestors.

l  Among all the breakthroughs that China and Taiwan have made since May 2008, direct air and sea links and Chinese tourists to Taiwan have offered most conveniences and generated most benefits to the ordinary people—businessmen, merchants, retailers, cab drivers, and students—of Taiwan.

l  In fact, according to the latest estimates by Taiwan’s Tourism Bureau, more than 1.2 million Chinese tourists have visited Taiwan during 2010, up almost 150 percent from a year earlier. From hotels to department stores, the boost in revenue for tourism-related industries has been indeed substantial, which is estimated to exceed NT$60 billion in 2010.

l  The major problem in allowing individual Chinese tourists to Taiwan appears to be the necessity for a "financial security deposit" for each individual tourist, as demanded by Taipei. Beijing, however, finds this requirement "unreasonable and insulting."

l  After further negotiations, Taipei has apparently relented on the demand. It now appears that individual Chinese tourists to Taiwan will become a reality by Q II, possibly as early as April.

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