China / HK Macao Taiwan

Taiwan elections could hurt tourism

By Peng Yining (China Daily) Updated: 2015-10-29 07:22

But no matter the outcome of January's vote, positive 'existing exchanges won't stop'

Tourism from the mainland to Taiwan could slow, as Taiwan is in a "special and sensitive time" ahead of January's elections, a spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council said at Wednesday's regular news briefing.

Mainland tour groups will consider their own interests, and tourists to Taiwan will consider the current environment, spokesman An Fengshan said. Referring to similar occasions in the past, An said politics can have varied effects upon the desire of mainland tourists to visit Taiwan.

"The atmosphere in society has been highly politicized," said An, who made his debut as the office's spokesman, its sixth since regular briefings began in 2000.Hu added that the mainland hoped for the stable development of tourism to Taiwan and desired that tourists' rights can be "paid attention to and guaranteed".

On Oct 17, Taiwan's ruling Kuomintang replaced deputy legislative speaker Hung Hsiuchu with KMT Chairman Eric Chu in the island's leadership election. Hung was nominated on July 19 as the KMT candidate but has been lagging behind Tsai Ing-wen, chairwoman of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party in polls.

The change rippled the island's political waters and made both the election and cross-Straits relations afterward more unpredictable, according to Zhu Songling, a professor at the Institute of Taiwan Studies at Beijing Union University.

"No matter who is elected eventually, the existing exchanges across the straits won't stop," said Zhu, referring to the current cooperation between the two sides in many fields, including tourism, culture and economy.

"Once the door is open and people are benefiting from exchanges, it is very hard to close it," he said.

According to the Taiwan Affairs Office, more than 9.4 million people made trips between the mainland and Taiwan last year-a record high and a year-on-year increase of 16.5 percent.

Additionally, the number of tourists from the mainland who visited Taiwan soared to 3.22 million last year, a year-on-year increase of 47 percent, it said.

By the end of this year, Chen Deming, president of the mainland-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits, will visit Taiwan for science and technology exchanges, according to the office. He will visit Taiwan's major science parks, companies and business incubators.

"The mainland and Taiwan have become an integral whole with a common destiny," Zhang Zhijun, the mainland's Taiwan affairs chief, said at a meeting with Andrew Hsia, his counterpart from Taiwan, in Guangzhou on Oct 15.

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