Since 2016, Beijing had largely cut down the tourist groups visiting to Taiwan. This is aimed to threaten the newly elected President Tsai Ing-wen, who strongly emphasize on Taiwanese identity. Nicola Smith (2016) in her article on TIME magazine has described it as “really hurts” Taiwan. However, another news report stated that the number of tourists from China actually keep increasing.(Lau, 2016) What happen to the tourism industry in Taiwan? Why there is such kind of strange phenomenon?
Since China lifted the limitation on citizens’ travelling right to Taiwan in 2008, Taiwan had benefited from Chinese tourists, as 10 million Chinese tourists visited Taiwan and brought US$ 18.8 billion incomes to Taiwan.(Mainland Affairs Council, 2016) As Chinese government believe that they brought huge contribution to Taiwanese economy, cutting down tourist groups to Taiwan could slow down Taiwanese economic development as well as make workers in tourism industry lose jobs, and this could give pressure and threaten the new DPP government in Taiwan to be loyal to China.
The hurt is severe to Taiwanese tourism industry, as the number of Chinese tourist groups visit to Taiwan had decreased from 20 groups daily in the past, to just 1 to 2 group(s) daily now. In the past, there were nearly 10000 grouped Chinese tourists visiting Taiwan for each month, but now only 2000.(BBC, 2016) This give a strong shock to large hotels, bus companies, jewelry shops in Taiwan, as these industries heavily relied on Chinese visitors.(Eye Prophet, 2016) Revenue from tourism had drop by 7.8%.(MSN News, 2016) 11 unions from the tourism industry held a demonstration in September to express their worry on their job, and over 10000 workers join the demonstration.(United Daily News, 2016) As a result, the Taiwanese government hold more promotion activities to attract Chinese visitors.(China Times, 2016)
However, the Taiwanese tourism industry should try more ways to solve the crisis. In 2014, 40% of tourists visiting to Taiwan are from China, and most of them come to Taiwan by tourist groups. When the Chinese tourist group decreased by 59.1% when comparing to last year figure in November (Apple Daile, 2016), it is quite sure that Taiwanese tourism would be hurt severely. Yet, at the same time, the tourist from Japan, South Korea and other region is keep increasing in 2016, and even having the same amount with visitors from China.(MSN News, 2016) President Tsai Ing-wen even promoted the “new go south” policy, which targeted to promote trade, tourism and other cooperation with the Southeast Asian countries.(ETToday, 2016) Therefore, Taiwanese tourism industries should not only focus on how to get back Chinese visitors, but try any effort to attract tourists from other countries, which could help to hedge the risk when they having too much focus on one source of profit.
Moreover, Taiwanese tourism industry should broaden their operation mode. Currently due to the tourism industry over relied on Chinese grouped tourist, when the grouped tourists from China decreases, those industries that closely linked to them, such as large hotels, bus companies, jewelry shops in Taiwan, would immediately affected. However, at the same time, the total number of visitors to Taiwan did not really decrease, the number actually increase indeed. This is because more and more individual travelers traveling to Taiwan. They would not live in hotels, travel by buses, but live in hostels or B&Bs, and travel by public transports. Therefore, Taiwan had to get well prepared when the ways of travelling started to change.
It is fortunately that tourism is not a pillar industry in Taiwan, therefore even China use this to threaten Taiwan, Taiwan did not really get hurt as Beijing’s expectation. However, due to lack of resources, numbers of developing countries using tourism as its pillar industries. Even for developed countries, it is often to see them over relying on a specific industry. Therefore, when choosing a path of economic development, those countries should invest on more industries, therefore even they encounter crises on specific industries, they could still hedge the crises and prevent from economic depression.
—– Wai Lun SO (M00601209)
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