In a bid to reignite the once-thriving tourism relationship between China and Taiwan, an official plea for the resumption of Chinese tourist visits has emerged. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Taiwan has eagerly awaited the return of its Chinese visitors, but restrictions from the mainland have persisted, causing frustration and economic repercussions.
Recently, the Minister of Transportation and Communications in Taiwan, Wang Kwo-tsai, took a bold stance on the matter. Addressing attendees at the prestigious “2023 Northern Taiwan Tourism Forum” held in the vibrant city of Taipei, Minister Wang emphasized that politics should not impede the flow of tourists between China and Taiwan. His impassioned plea for both sides to prioritize tourism over politics struck a chord with the audience and sparked widespread attention.
“I firmly believe that tourism should never be held hostage to political considerations,” Minister Wang declared. “The Ministry of Transportation and Communications of Taiwan remains committed to fostering tourism exchanges between China and Taiwan, independent of political factors,” he asserted, urging the resumption of Chinese tourist visits to Taiwan.
Highlighting the unequal treatment, Minister Wang criticized China’s current policy, which permits Taiwanese citizens to travel to the mainland while denying their Chinese counterparts the opportunity to explore the beauty of Taiwan. “We hope that China will display goodwill and reciprocate by allowing its citizens to embark on a journey to Taiwan without delay,” he implored. His message of equality resonated strongly, as he stressed the importance of facilitating mutual visits in a fair and balanced manner.
This is not the first time tensions over tourism have flared between the two regions. Prior to the pandemic, China had already imposed severe restrictions on travel to Taiwan. In 2019, Chinese authorities suspended group tours and individual visits from eight regions, including Beijing and Shanghai, in an attempt to exert political pressure on Taiwan’s leadership. The consequences were dire, with Taiwan’s tourism industry suffering a staggering economic loss of approximately 35.4 billion New Taiwan dollars.
Observers in Taiwan believe that China’s measures were strategically designed to influence the upcoming presidential elections and weaken Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan’s pro-independence President. However, these political maneuvers have left an indelible mark on Taiwan’s economy and its longing for a harmonious tourism relationship with its neighbor.
As the quest for tourism harmony gains momentum, both sides must navigate the intricate web of politics and strive for a brighter future of cross-strait tourism. The resumption of Chinese tourism to Taiwan is not just about economics; it represents an opportunity to bridge divides, forge cultural connections, and showcase the splendor of Taiwan to the world. With Minister Wang’s impassioned plea echoing in the hearts of many, the call for breaking barriers and restoring the flow of Chinese tourists to Taiwan grows stronger with each passing day.