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China restricting tourism to Taiwan after elections

Beijing’s policies are having an impact on Taiwan’s travel industry.

By
Elizabeth Shim
Tsai Ing-wen, president-elect of Taiwan. Photo courtesy of Voice of America
Tsai Ing-wen, president-elect of Taiwan. Photo courtesy of Voice of America

TAIPEI, Taiwan, Feb. 23 (UPI) -- China has made significant changes in its tourism policy regarding Taiwan in the wake of recent presidential elections, and the policies are hitting Taiwan's businesses.

Beijing is enforcing policies that discourage mainland Chinese tourists from visiting Taiwan and has also restricted the number of cities Taiwanese nationals are allowed to visit unaccompanied on the mainland, Taiwanese newspaper Liberty Times reported.

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China could be wary of President-elect Tsai Ing-wen of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party. Analysts have said Tsai could be a check against China's increasing influence in the region, and China has been monitoring Taiwan carefully since the elections.

Beijing does not recognize the government in Taipei as a sovereign state.

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Since the opposition's victory, mainland Chinese authorities have placed quotas on outbound tourists. Before the new rules, an average of 8,000 Chinese tourists visited Taiwan daily, but that number is now down by 40 percent, to about 5,000, Taiwan media reported.

An estimated 80 percent of tour packages on offer in the mainland have been suspended, and popular tourist attractions have seen a significant reduction in visitors, posing a major setback for Taiwan's travel industry that has enjoyed a boom since free travel was permitted in 2012.

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Taiwanese tourists are also less free to roam in China. Prior to the election outcome, China permitted Taiwanese tourists to travel freely in 47 cities, but now unaccompanied travel is limited to four major cities: Beijing, Shanghai, Xiamen and Guangzhou.

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The preemptive policy appears to be a subtle warning against any substantial changes under the new government, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.

About 4 million Chinese tourists visit Taiwan annually, according to government statistics.

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