Taiwan Mixed about Prospect of More Tourists from China

If, as expected, China and Taiwan conclude an agreement this summer allowing many more Chinese mainlanders onto the island for tourism, some say local businesses will prosper, but others worry that Taiwan’s scenic spots will be overrun by tourists and spoiled by developers. From the International Herald Tribune:

Chinese tourists were first officially admitted to Taiwan in 2002. But visits are capped at 1,000 a day, and tourists must travel to the island via third locations because of restrictions on direct cross-strait flights.

But if Ma Ying-jeou, the president-elect, has his way, that will change.

Ma, who takes office on May 20, has promised to reach an agreement on more Chinese tourists and weekend cross-strait charter flights by early July, expanding to weekday charters by the end of the year and regularly scheduled flights by summer 2009. All this is part of his election pledge to stimulate the island’s laggard economy with closer cross-strait economic ties.

Under the plan, the cap would be tripled to 3,000 Chinese tourists a day, or more than 1 million per year. Last year, 320,169 mainlanders visited Taiwan, only 81,900 of whom officially came as tourists, according to Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council. The rest were listed as business travelers or “others.”

In a few years, Ma hopes, the cap could rise to 10,000 tourist visits per day. Tourist revenues will have benefits throughout the economy, he says, especially helping lower- and middle-income Taiwanese in the service sector.

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