Shanghai, March 7 (CNA) Although fewer Chinese tourists have visited Taiwan since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) assumed office in May, Taiwan is emerging as an attractive destination for business travelers from China as the mainland's economy undergoes structural transition, a travel agent in Shanghai said on Tuesday.
Taiwan's official statistics show that in 2016, the number of Chinese nationals who visited for tourism fell by 671,000, or 18 percent, from the previous year.
Indeed, from May to December there were 739,925 fewer Chinese tourists, a drop of 33 percent.
According to travel agents in China, many of their customers have been discouraged from visiting Taiwan by government officials.
Lin Yihui (林怡慧), general manager of Shanghai-based Tian Hui Tour, said the fall in numbers initially hit tour groups, but later spread to independent travelers after 24 Chinese nationals were killed in a tour bus fire deliberately set by the Taiwanese driver of the bus in September.
Another tour bus crash in Taipei last month, in which 33 locals were killed, has raised serious doubts about the safety of traveling in Taiwan, she said.
Despite the unfavorable atmosphere, the skills demonstrated by traditional craftsmen and women in Taiwan remain a target for Chinese businessmen on fact-finding tours in Taiwan, at a time when the Chinese government is promoting its "Made in China 2025" initiative, which aims to use craftsmanship to upgrade the quality of traditional Chinese products, she said.
Among some of the most popular destinations are Wood Sculpture Street in Miaoli County's Sanyi township and Snake Kiln in Nantou County's Shuili township, she said.
(By Chen Chia-lun and Y.F. Low)