Southern Taiwan wants more Chinese tourists


Kaohsiung – Representatives of the tourism industry in Kaohsiung and Pingtung are scheduled to meet with a top tourism official from China Monday as part of efforts to attract more Chinese visitors to the southern part of Taiwan.

Lin Fu-nan, head of the Kao-Kao-Ping Tourism Alliance, a union of tourism-related industries in the Kaohsiung and Pingtung areas, said the alliance will discuss Monday with Shao Qiwei, director of China’s National Tourism Administration and head of the Cross-Strait Tourism Association (CSTA) , ways of bringing more Chinese tourists to the area.

The southern areas of Taiwan traditionally have been a stronghold of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which advocates Taiwan’s de jure independence.

Lin said that Kaohsiung City tourism has suffered greatly due to a sharp decrease in the number of Chinese tourist arrivals since a visit last year by the Dalai Lama, who is viewed by China as a separatist.

The Kaohsiung City government invited the Tibetan spiritual leader to visit Taiwan last year to pray for victims of Typhoon Morakot after the storm caused massive destruction in the south of the country last August.

In September, the city government screened a documentary about exiled Uighur political activist Rebiya Kadeer, another figure who is seen by China as a separatist.

Lin said that thanks to the efforts of tourism operators who sought to establish communication with the relevant Chinese authorities, tourist arrivals from China have returned to “normal levels.”

He expressed the hope that “no other government agencies or officials would take similar actions or make remarks” that would be detrimental to the tourism or other industries.

Lin said that Kaohsiung City saw the number of its tourist arrivals so far this year increased by 108 percent from the same period of 2009, and by 168 percent from 2008.

“With 45 percent of the visitors to Kaohsiung City being Chinese tourists, many tourism operators in the area see Chinese visitor arrivals as ‘a shot in arm’ for the sector, ” Lin said.

The operators have planned new tour packages and are hoping that the meeting with Shao will yield positive results, he said.

Shao, who is in Taiwan for a cross-strait trade fair, said a few days ago that Chinese visitor arrivals to Taiwan will reach 1.5 million this year, and will later rise to 3 million.