Taiwan opens up
Taiwan is a relative newcomer to China's travel boom. The country first opened its doors to groups of Chinese tourists in 2008 and permitted entry to independent travelers in 2011. Chow says steps taken by President Ma Ying-jeou's government to relax travel restrictions are yielding results.
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"During the Chinese New Year holidays, Taiwan made its administrative process more efficient by increasing the speed of visa approvals and allowing more people to come in," Chow explained.
Subsequently, the government loosened its quota system in May to allow up to 5,000 mainland visitor groups and 4,000 individual travelers each day.
The surge in tourists yielded sizeable economic benefits. Local commercial sales –combined revenue in retail and restaurant businesses – hit a 15-month high in April.
Hong Kong's economy meanwhile has felt the pain from declining visitors. In April, retail sales suffered their biggest drop since 2009, mostly due to a 40 percent on-year drop in luxury goods sales on lower Chinese spending.
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With the number of Chinese visitors to Taiwan expected to increase, Chow warns that the government must learn from Hong Kong.
"To fully embrace the potential of the tourism boom, the government needs to first ensure that the economic advantages of tourism are shared evenly. In particular, local residents in Taiwan should be safeguarded from issues such as overcrowding, in order to limit any resentment caused by an influx of tourists, like in Hong Kong, where some have come to condemn large tourist inflows," she said.