TAIPEI, Taiwan – Taiwan has received a large number of tourists from China who have come to the island under an independent travel program to observe Taiwan’s general elections over the past few years.
Every time general elections are held in Taiwan, many young independent Chinese tourists will opt to visit Taiwan to experience the election atmosphere, while some journalists from Hong Kong and Macau who fail to get media permits also visit Taiwan independently to observe the elections.
These independent tourists can make all their travel arrangements in Taiwan through internet-based services, from booking airline tickets and making hotel reservations to renting cars.
Over the past few years, some Chinese travel and tourism agencies have even printed “election observation manuals” that outline Taiwan’s elections and how the candidates campaign.
However, as January’s presidential and legislative elections approach, there has been no sign of any impending massive inflow of Chinese tourists. This is perhaps because of a call issued by the Chinese government for Chinese tourists to avoid visiting Taiwan during the election season so that more seats are available on cross-strait flights for Taiwanese businessmen operating in China who want to return home to vote.
Despite this, several Taiwanese media representatives say that Chinese journalists and tourists interested in observing the elections will make their travel plans based on their companies’ media policies rather than according to the government’s call.
In addition, Taiwan’s government announced in August that a cap on the number of Chinese tourists traveling to Taiwan via the Free Independent Travel (FIT) program is to be raised to 5,000 per day, up from the current 4,000, to boost the country’s tourism.
To tap into the independent travel market, Taiwan’s online travel and tourism operators have launched a string of promotions for vacation packages deals targeting independent Chinese tourists.
These developments are expected to further give a boost to Taiwan’s independent travel market.