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Taiwan allows more solo China tourists to offset tour fall

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Taiwan will allow more solo Chinese tourists to offset a fall in group arrivals after Beijing outlawed forced shopping trips, which resulted in operators raising the price of package tours, officials said Friday.

From Sunday Taiwan will raise its quota for individual travellers by 1,000 to 3,000 a day, the government said in a statement after the Cabinet approved the move Thursday. The quota for group tour members remains unchanged at 5,000 a day.

Tourism officials said the move would help to reduce the impact of China's first tourism law, which came into effect on October 1.

China enacted the law to curb unhealthy industry practices such as taking tour groups on forced shopping trips, which subsidised package prices, and unfair competition. Tour operators in China have subsequently hiked their prices as a result.

According to figures released by Taiwan's Tourism Bureau, the number of Chinese arrivals in group tours in October plunged 33 percent from a year ago to 3,043 a day, followed by another 24 percent year-on-year fall in November.

Overall, however, Taiwan has seen a dramatic influx of visitors from mainland China since the island's Beijing-friendly government lifted a ban on Chinese group tourists in 2008 and further allowed in solo tourists in mid-2011.

A record 2.6 million Chinese nationals visited the island last year, up a massive 45 percent from 2011, highlighting the fast improving ties between Taipei and Beijing.

China has replaced Japan to become the biggest source of visitors to Taiwan and Chinese tourists are among the biggest shoppers on the island, spending more than Tw$85.7 billion ($2.9 billion) last year, the government data showed.

China still considers Taiwan part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary, even though the sides have been governed separately since the end of a civil war in 1949.

cty/mtp

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/131129/taiwan-allows-more-solo-china-tourists-offset-tour-fall