Chinese passenger volume drops at most Taiwan airports in July

With the number of tourists from China traveling to Taiwan on the decline, the number of Chinese visitors who arrived at and departed from the nation's airports, with the exception of the Taipei Songshan Airport, fell in July, the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) said Friday.

According to the CAA, the number of Chinese visitors handled by the Taoyuan International Airport in northern Taiwan, the largest airport in the country, stood at about 710,000 in July, down 4.4 percent from a year earlier.

The CAA data showed that the number of Chinese tourists arriving in and departing from the Taichung airport in central Taiwan and the Kaohsiung airport in southern Taiwan for the month of July fell 13.1 percent and 8.5 percent, respectively, to 27,000 and 92,000.

Even worse, the Hualien airport in eastern Taiwan and the Tainan airport in southern Taiwan saw zero arrivals and departures of Chinese tourists in July, the CAA statistics indicated. In the same period last year, the Hualien Airport and the Tainan Airport handled 1,100 and 2,622 Chinese visitors, respectively, the CAA said.

Only the Songshan Airport, located in capital city of Taipei, bucked the downtrend, recording a 2.6 percent increase in the number of arrivals and departures of Chinese visitors in July, to some 150,000, the CAA said.

The latest CAA data echoed market concerns that the number of Chinese tourists traveling to Taiwan has been falling since the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) took power on May 20.

According to the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), which governs cross-strait relations in Taiwan, the number of Chinese arrivals during the period of May 20 and Aug. 16 fell about 20 percent. The MAC said that the number of Chinese group visitors plunged 37 percent but the number of Chinese visitors on independent travel programs rose 4.8 percent.

The decline occurs as Beijing continues to insist that Taiwan's new president, Tsai Ing-wen (???) of the DPP, recognize the "1992 consensus" -- a tacit agreement between Taiwan and China that there is only one China, with each side free to interpret what that means. China has perceived the consensus as the political foundation for cross-Taiwan Strait exchanges.

Tsai has only gone so far as to say that she respects "the historical fact" that Taiwan and China "arrived at various joint acknowledgements and understandings" in talks in 1992.

Local media repeatedly reported that Chinese authorities have started to tighten control on their citizens visiting Taiwan amid deteriorating cross-strait ties after Tsai was sworn in.

In 2015, about 4.18 million Chinese tourists visited Taiwan, a number that was almost evenly split between independent travelers and those in tour groups, up from the 3.99 million recorded in 2014, according to Tourism Bureau data.

On Thursday, The Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) said that it will work with local travel agencies and their Chinese counterparts to launch new travel programs to restore the confidence of Chinese tourists after a high-profile tour bus accident in July.

The accident involving a tour bus fire killed all 26 on board, including 24 Chinese tourists.

Source: Focus Taiwan