TAIPEI, Taiwan - A change in policy restricting mainland China travel agencies from offering discounted shopping excursion-oriented packages may impact local tourism significantly, with the industry anticipating a 30 per cent decline in the number of mainland Chinese visitors.
The new laws stipulates that travel agencies in China may no longer design travel packages around specified shopping destinations, or demand additional surcharges for visiting attractions and points of interests, according to reports. In addition, tour guides may no longer be allowed to receive tips and gratuity payments directly from tourists - instead, these payments must be specified beforehand, and included in the price of tour packages.
According to a white paper published by the Hotel Association of R.O.C., 7.31 million tourists visited Taiwan in 2012, of which 35 per cent, or 2.58 million, were from China. 1.78 million mainland China tourists came by the way of packaged tours.
Following the change, depending on routes and level of accommodations, local tourism operators and travel agencies are expecting prices of tour packages to rise by as much as 30 per cent, and impact revenues from Chinese tourists by 30 to 40 per cent.
Local businesses stated that prior to the change, shopping-oriented week-long excursions were offered for as low as NT$20,000 (S$850) , meaning that excluding airfare, tourists from China were spending as little as NT$1,000 a day for travel expenses, food, and room and board. Similar tour packages are expected to start from NT$30,000 following the change, beginning on Oct. 1, said local businesses.
The Travel Agent Association of the R.O.C. stated that the compulsory policy enacted across the strait is rather heavy handed, and is likely to impact Taiwan's tourism industries significantly. However, the association remains upbeat, saying that over time conditions will improve as better equipped operators adjust to the change.
A travel agency remarked that China's recent policy change was an across-the-board move, and not aimed only aimed at Taiwan, adding that without compensation from commissions and cash back incentives from participating shopping outlet operators, costs would have be to reflected by higher prices.