With Chinese tourism down, Taiwan looks to visitors from southeast Asia

With Chinese tourism down, Taiwan looks to visitors from southeast Asia

The New York Times
17 May 2017

“Beijing has used Chinese tour groups as both carrots and sticks,” said Ian Rowen, an assistant professor of geography at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, who is writing a book on Chinese tourism. Now, the stick is being deployed against Taiwan, he said, to pressure President Tsai Ing-wen, who took office a year ago, to publicly endorse a view of China and Taiwan as part of “one China.” Her Democratic Progressive Party has historically favored independence for Taiwan. Since her inauguration, Chinese visits to Taiwan have fallen significantly …Mr. Rowen, who traveled to Taiwan from China in an organized group as part of his research, said that such tours are highly structured, with “mandatory prearranged shopping stops and rushed site visits.”

“Tourists have little choice but to comply with their local tour operator’s selection of hotels and restaurants,” he added. How much of the spending by Chinese groups remains with Chinese companies remains unclear, but suspicions run deep in Taiwan that its businesses may not be the main beneficiaries.
“The vast majority of industry insiders I’ve interviewed — even those who have championed tourism from China — are certain that hotels, transport companies and shopping destinations have been penetrated, if not dominated outright, by Chinese capital,” Mr. Rowen said. “But given opaque ownership structures and local partners, it’s difficult to demonstrate the veracity of such claims.”