More on China-Taiwan direct flights and Chinese tourists
A while ago, I blogged about the number of Chinese tourists and how Ma’s government promised 3,000 per day and each would spend $1,857 per visit but it turned out that there were only 173 per day and the average spending was between $670 and $1300. Last month, Dr. Billy Pan, a well respected Taiwanese blogger, investigated further and found that the real picture was even grimmer.
Dr. Pan dug out some detailed figures from Taiwan’s Tourism Bureau and worked out that the number of Chinese tourists in July 2008 reported in the press (N=5,389) included those from Hong Kong and Macau. Without those, direct flights from China only brought in 1,002 Chinese tourists in July and the vast majority of passengers on those flights were Taiwanese people working or living in China. This leaves the daily average of Chinese tourists brought in by direct flights a stunning 37. This is less than tourists from a lot of other countries.
Chinese tourists have already been allowed to come to Taiwan through HK, Macau and a 3rd country in the past. The current direct flights everyone seems so excited about certainly don’t increase the number of Chinese tourists and their actual average spending has been $195 per person per visit. We can also see in the statistics that the number of Taiwan’s biggest visitor group, Japan, has decreased since Ma vowed to bring in lots of Chinese tourists.
This is why we don’t hear the press raving about Cross Strait direct flights and Chinese tourists boosting Taiwanese economy anymore. With the Chinese economy struggling, many doubt that the Chinese would feel generous in helping with the Taiwanese economy without a strong political motive. Similarly, no country will be pouring investments into China after the labour cost in China has increased following their new legislation and when the Chinese economy is slowing down unless there is a hidden political agenda.
Ma’s government has already signed the deal on direct flights hastily without putting in place proper public health such as sufficient quarantine facilities and and security measures to prevent illegal immigration and spies. To make it worse, Ma insisted on granting landing visas to the Chinese at Kinmen or Matsu. There are many reports on Chinese tourists escaping from their tour groups and illegally staying/working in other countries. Most countries in the world exercise tight visa and passport control on Chinese citizens and yet Ma is going against all wisdom and Taiwan’s national interest to make it easy for Chinese, people from a country that has never disguised their intention to invade/take over Taiwan, to come into Taiwan without any precaution or much surveillance. I do wonder why.