Published on : Thursday, January 9, 2020
Last year, China upped the ante against Taiwan making use of measures to bring discipline. China boycotted a prestigious film festival in Taiwan, enticed more countries to break diplomatic ties with Taipei, and restricted the number of visitors from the mainland. However, like before, it failed to attain the desired effect.
Taiwan’s tourism bureau said that in 2019, the number of foreign visitors to Taiwan hit a record 11.84 million, marking a 7% increase from the previous year and the sharpest annual jump since 2014. Visitors from China also went up 0.5% from the year before.
This came in spite of an announcement by Beijing in August that it would postpone trips to Taiwan by individual tourists, for impacting the island’s economy so that voters would think before for president Tsai Ing-wen in the general election. Tourist arrivals from China went down 60% the following month.
China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory, considers Tsai a secessionist and has applied coercive economic measures and repeatedly threatened to use force against Taiwan since she was elected in 2016. In that year, China asked tour group operators to limit the flow of visitors to Taiwan, and in the two months after Tsai’s inauguration, Chinese group tours to Taiwan plunged by 30%.
Tourist numbers from China to Taiwan have never quite recovered to the state before 2016, when a government that supported closer ties to Beijing was in power in Taipei. In any case, Taiwan has balanced this shortfall by attracting tourists from other markets, mostly Japan and Southeast Asia, and by relaxing visa requirements for some countries.