On Monday, about 10,000 Taiwanese tourism workers took to the streets, calling on the government to improve the situation, just ahead of a key period for the industry: the Mid-Autumn Festival long weekend in China, which started Thursday, and the week-long National Day holiday that starts on October 1.
The Taiwan Tourism Bureau said the number of Chinese visitors who came to the country as part of a tour group fell 8 percent from January to July, even as total overseas visitor numbers grew 7.9 percent from a year ago to 6.3 million. In contrast, the number of individual travelers from the mainland rose 14 percent from January to July.
The fall in group traveler numbers was particularly significant for Taiwan because holidaymakers in tour groups tended to spend more days at different places in Taiwan.
"Even if the number of tourists from South Korea increase by 100 percent, it could still not make up for 5 or 10 percent decrease in the number of tourists from the Chinese mainland," said Taiwan's Travel Agent Association spokesperson Ringo Lee said at the protest.
Numbers from Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council backed up the picture of a broad slump, showing there were 15 percent fewer visitors from mainland China in July alone, while overall Chinese visitor number growth from January to July was just 0.5 percent higher than the same period a year ago.
The slide in mainland visitor came on the back of the cooling relationship between Beijing and Taipei, caused by Taiwan's election of pro-independence campaigner Tsai Ing-wen as president in January.