Taiwan’s official numbers haven’t shown a notable drop in visa applications from mainlanders, but the tourism industry is worrying about a decline following Tsai Ing-wen’s landside victory in January’s presidential election.
“The people of Taiwan have elected a government that will defend Taiwan’s sovereignty,” the Democratic Progressive Party leader said after her win.
It is feared that the relationship between Taiwan and mainland China could turn turbulent under the rule of Tsai, who will be inaugurated May 20.
And that could turn away visitors from across the strait.
Some hotel and hostel operators said they are feeling signs of a contraction in business.
“Business has not recovered from the pre-election levels,” a hotel manager told the media.
Similar remarks have been made by people in related businesses, like tour coaches and catering.
Regional governments in Taiwan have reportedly invested in a slew of sight-seeing infrastructure projects to prepare for more mainland travellers.
Some are concerned about a poor return on their investment if fewer visitors come from the mainland.
But it seems premature to speculate that Tsai’s presidency will do anything to harm the tourism sector.
“Many think that the DPP does not welcome Chinese visitors, but that is not true,” the Taipei Times quoted Tsai as saying shortly before the election.
Tsai said the lifting of the ban on tourists from the mainland was made when the DPP was in power.
Clearly, Tsai wants to keep mainland tourists coming, although she did suggest the island should try to attract more tourist groups with high purchasing power and stressed the need to broaden its tourist base, especially from countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Taiwan’s jobless rate has been climbing, and its overall economy is lackluster.
With hundreds of thousands of families depending on tourism for a living, there is too much at stake for Tsai to do anything risky.
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