On the morning of September 4, the Dalai Lama flew from Taiwan, ending his six-day tour there. When asked by many foreign media agencies whether his visit to Taiwan will affect cross-Straits relations before boarding the aircraft, the Dalai Lama laughed off the question, according to a report by the Global Times. However, facts show that the Dalai Lama’s visit to Taiwan has already caused the country’s tourism industry to lose several billion NTD.
According to a report published by the Hong Kong-based Wen Wei Po on September 5, the Dalai Lama’s visit to Taiwan severely affected the island’s tourism industry. Taiwan Tourism Bureau director-general Janice Seh-Jen Lai openly admitted that the Chinese mainland tourist market in Taiwan was negatively affected by the Dalai Lama’s visit to Taiwan. The bureau originally invited media and travel agencies in the Chinese mainland to visit Taiwan in mid-September to visit attractions and travel routes other than Alishan, but it has now certainly been postponed. Data shows that the average daily number of Chinese mainland tourists to Taiwan stood at 1,500 last month, and the figure will be only 1,000–odd over the next week.
Benson Chen, deputy general manager of Cola Tours, said that many planned business, economic and trade, exchange and visiting delegations to Taiwan this month have been suspended. As the delegations had planned to make large-scale purchases in Taiwan after the disaster, it is conservatively estimated that the cancellation of the delegations is likely to cause several billion NTD of losses.