Taiwan increases quota for Chinese travellers to boost tourism

TAIPEI (AFP) - Taiwan is to increase its quota for tourists from China by 40 per cent to allow 7,000 arrivals a day, the government announced on Wednesday in a fresh bid to boost travel from the mainland.

The daily quota for solo tourists was being doubled from 1,000 to 2,000 while 5,000 group tourists will be allowed in from the current 4,000, said the Tourism Bureau, adding that both measures were expected to take effect in May.

China has replaced Japan to become the biggest source of visitors to Taiwan, with 2.58 million arrivals in 2012.

The bureau hopes the measures will help boost Taiwan's tourism revenues, as Chinese tourists are among the biggest shoppers on the island, spending more than Tw$85.7 billion (S$3.6 billion) last year, according to the bureau.

Taiwan's Beijing-friendly government lifted a ban on Chinese group tourists in 2008 and allowed in solo tourists in mid-2011 amid fast improving ties.

However, Beijing still considers self-ruled Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary, even though the two sides have been governed separately since the end of a civil war in 1949.