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Travel industry asks Taiwan’s government to tackle fall in mainland Chinese tourists since President Tsai Ing-wen took office

Representatives of Taiwan’s tourism industry were set to take to the streets of Taipei on Monday afternoon to ask the government to tackle the falling number of mainland Chinese tourists visiting the island since the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party took office in May.

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Event spokesman Ringo Lee emphasised the event was not a “protest”, but a “peaceful and rational way of expressing the industry’s thinking”.

He said: “We want survival, we want jobs, and we want food on the table.”

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The march is the first of its kind to be organised by the island’s tourism industry since the ban on mainland visitors to Taiwan was partially lifted in 2008, when then-president Ma Ying-jeou, of the Nationalist Party (KMT), was first elected on a platform of seeking friendlier ties with Beijing.

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After that time, the number of mainland Chinese visitors to Taiwan for both tourism and business purposes rose dramatically in the wake of an improvement in bilateral ties.

The number of mainland tourists visiting grew from one million in 2008 to four million in 2015.

However, relations with Beijing have stalled since President Tsai Ing-wen, of the DPP, took office in May.

Statistics show that the number of tourists from mainland China dropped by 15 per cent in July compared with the same period in 2015, while the number from Hong Kong and Macao increased by nearly 5 per cent.

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However, Lee distanced the event from politics, saying it was not political in nature.

He was quick to dismiss speculation that the mainland government was behind the decline in the number of mainland tourists visiting Taiwan, saying the speculation was nothing but “rumour spread on the internet”.