Taiwan International Airport Corporation (TIAC) is predicting a 1.14m drop in visitors to Taoyuan Airport between August and December 2019 due to the Chinese government’s ban on solo travellers to Taiwan.
As reported, China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism announced earlier this month it was restricting a pilot programme permitting travel by residents from 47 mainland cities.
Heightened cross-strait relations appear to have influenced the travel curb, a statement from the Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism implies.
CHINESE SOLO TRAVEL BAN ‘JUST AN ANNOUNCEMENT’
A TIAC Spokesperson told TRBusiness: “We suggest that 2019 annual passenger traffic might fall to 47.49m with growth of 2% instead of 48.64m. Last year’s growth rate was 3.69%.”
On the DF&TR front, leading Taiwanese travel retailer Ever Rich Duty Free has played down the potential impact of the Chinese government’s move.
A Spokesperson said: “The banning […] will definitely cause some impact to the Taiwan tourism industry and Ever Rich. However, both the Taiwanese government and especially Ever Rich in recent three years has started to develop a diversity of customer sources — for many years the customer profile of Ever Rich has mainly consisted of Taiwanese.
“Moreover, we have seen gradually increasing numbers of Japanese and Korean customers and a large growth in the percentage of South East Asian tourist arrivals. Therefore, we don’t see it as too big an impact on us and also it should not be a long-term policy. We will still focus on what we should do: to enhance passengers’ duty free experience, provide unforgettable service to all our customers and to give back to society.”
Another well-informed industry source, who also preferred not to be named, questioned the significance of the ruling, calling it ‘just an announcement’ by the Chinese government on its travel policy. They told TRBusiness: “There is always a new rule in the build-up to the Taiwanese election which takes place in January 2020. I think the situation will be resolved if a new President is appointed or the existing one remains in office.”
Despite the tense cross-strait relations between Taiwan and China, which show little sign of easing and continuing Hong Kong anti-government protests, the spokesman is still expecting passenger growth at Taoyuan Airport.
The situation, however, might well change for the worse should the Chinese government impose a ban on Chinese group travellers to Taiwan.
On the flip side, the planned implementation of ‘preferential treatment’ covering group and individual visitors (from other countries) will certainly help matters. In a perfect world, this would be introduced before The Chinese National Day Golden Week period, beginning 1 October. But it is understood such measures take some time to execute meaning this might not be possible.
“Tour group visits might be affected, but in terms of total Taoyuan Airport traffic in 2019, annual traffic growth is likely to be positive as the trend of travellers form other regions, including South East and North East Asia is still promising,” the TIAC Spokesman remarked.
Longer term, the Spokesperson also believes airlines operating cross-strait flights might change to smaller aircrafts, operate code-shares or even cancel routes.
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