TAIPEI, Taiwan – Taiwan could benefit from a service trade agreement signed with China Friday that liberalizes the cross-strait travel market by allowing Taiwanese and Chinese travel agencies to operate in each other’s territories, industry insiders said.
“It is like another springboard for the local tourism business,” said Yao Ta-kuang, chairman of the Travel Agent Association of the Republic of China.
Under the terms of the new pact, Taiwan is allowed to set up an unlimited number of travel agencies in China to provide travel services to both Chinese and foreign nationals, a move Yao said will elevate Taiwan’s presence in the Chinese market because of the better service quality Taiwanese firms can offer.
The agreement also allows China to operate up to three travel agencies in Taiwan, with their clients limited to Taiwanese people.
According to Chen Chiung-hua, deputy director of the Tourism Bureau’s Hotel, Travel and Training Division, the introduction of Chinese tourism operators could create market demand because they provide services at a lower price.
Taiwan saw about 140 million domestic trips last year, only 4 percent of which were sold through travel agencies, according to the results of a telephone survey. According to the official, this means that the market potential has not been fully tapped.
She defined a “domestic trip” as anyone leaving their place of residence and traveling elsewhere in Taiwan for any length of time.