MAC denies cut in quota for Chinese independent tourists

2017/10/06 18:03:33
MAC denies cut in quota for Chinese independent tourists

Taipei, Oct. 6 (CNA) Amid criticism that the government is to blame for the declining number of Chinese tourists visiting Taiwan, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) dismissed the allegations Friday, saying that it has in fact lifted its quota for independent visitors from China to help attract more tourists from across the Taiwan Strait.

"The government remains open and committed to boosting tourism across the strait, as bilateral tourism exchanges are conducive to forging a positive relationship between Taiwan and China," said Shih Mei-yu (石美瑜), an official of the MAC's Economic Affairs Department.

"To serve that end, we increased the daily quota for Chinese independent tourists from 5,000 to 6,000 in December last year," Shih noted at a news conference hosted by opposition Kuomintang Legislator Chen Shei-saint (陳學聖), who raised concerns about a decline in the number of Chinese independent tourists coming to Taiwan since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) came to office in May 2016.

Meanwhile, the ratio of Chinese independent tourists being denied entry visas to Taiwan has been on the rise, Chen pointed out.

Citing statistics from the National Immigration Agency (NIA), he said that the ratio has more than doubled in recent years. In 2014, the denial ratio was 0.8 percent, rising to 1.48 percent in 2016 and 1.89 percent in the first eight months of this year, he added.

Chen said he doubts whether the government has tightened its policy regarding visa scrutiny for Chinese independent travelers, as he has received many petitions about being denied a visa to enter Taiwan, some of which were only to attend a concert by Jay Chou or to run a marathon.

Those kinds of Chinese visitors are usually peace-loving people with strong affinity to Taiwan who the government should try hard to attract, he said.

As to the question of why the visa denial ratio rose in the first eight months of the year, Ke Kuang-wei (葛廣薇), an NIA section chief, attributed the trend to the holding of the 2017 Summer Universiade in August in Taipei. For national security reasons, visa applications from individuals suspected of being potential criminals were vigorously scrutinized, leading to a higher rate of rejection, she explained.

(By Wang Cheng-chung and Flor Wang)
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