Tourism authorities in Taiwan might propose extending the maximum stay of mainland visitors as worsening cross-strait ties continue to hurt the island’s tourism sector, Central News Agency reported yesterday.
People working in the tourism industry had been urging the government to allow mainland travellers coming under the Individual Visit Scheme to stay for as long as 30 days, the report said.
Residents of 47 mainland cities can spend up to 15 days on the island per visit.
Tourism officials said they would also review measures to make it easier for mainlanders – the largest source of tourists for Taiwan – to obtain tourist visas.
The number of mainland visitors to Taiwan has fallen sharply since the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party came to power in May. About
215,000 mainland tourists visited Taiwan in September – a 37.8 per cent decline compared with the same period last year, CNA reported.
From October 1 to 18 – traditionally a popular season for mainland tourists – Taiwan saw 95,000 mainland tourists, a year-on-year fall of 47.8 per cent.
A cross-strait visit by the head of the opposition Kuomintang starting Sunday was unlikely to help the ailing industry, analysts said.
KMT chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu is expected to discuss cross-strait economic development and civilian exchanges with President Xi Jinping on November 1.
The number of mainland tourists to Taiwan quadrupled from 2008 to 2015 when Taiwan was ruled by the Beijing-friendly KMT.
The travel industry is worried by its dwindling income since President Tsai Ing-wen’s election win.
In her first National Day speech as president, she did not commit to the “1992 consensus”, deemed by Beijing a precondition of resuming bilateral talks, which states Taiwan is a part of China.
Hu Lingwei, a Taiwan affairs specialist at the Shanghai Institute of East Asian Studies, said Beijing had stopped encouraging its people to travel to Taiwan because of the cross-strait strains, and the mainland would not change its mind just because of Hung’s visit this week.
“The political trust between the KMT and the Communist Party is already established,” Hu said. “The key is whether the DPP will show a shift in attitude.”