Describing visitors from China as "Taiwan's most-needed friends," a senior official urged netizens here Sunday to recognize the difference between Chinese people and their government, and warned that if a majority of Chinese develop antipathy toward Taiwan, "that would be a real danger."
Commenting on the impact of decreasing tourist arrivals from China, Minister without Portfolio Chang Ching-sen (???) called on Taiwan's free-wheeling netizens to stop making detrimental posts such as "Taiwan is getting fresh air again now that the mainland tourist presence is much reduced."
"These kinds of comments serve only to provoke Chinese people's antipathy toward Taiwan. Should that become widespread, I see a real danger for Taiwan," Chang said in a Facebook post.
"No matter how you look at the Beijing government, I hope you Internet users will be able to tell Chinese people apart from their government and realize that Chinese tourists are our most-needed friends," Chang said.
"They (Chinese tourists) come here because they like Taiwan. As we know, most of them leave with a good impression and beautiful memories of Taiwan," Chang wrote.
As convener of a Cabinet task force set up to attract Chinese tourists, Chang said he has noticed a languishing of the local tourism industry because of a drastic slump in Chinese tourist arrivals in July and August. He did not give figures.
The previous Kuomintang government of President Ma Ying-jeou (???) used "political fertilizer" to cultivate a cross-Taiwan Strait tourism business that saw a record 4.18 mainland Chinese tourist visits to Taiwan last year, he said.
The booming business generated revenue of almost NT$200 billion (US$6.3 billion) that supported over 200 travel agencies, 4,000 tour buses, and 900 hotels, employing numerous workers, who have been taking to the streets to demand government help since Beijing began to curtail the flow of Chinese tourists to Taiwan, Chang said.
He said it is sad to see some tour guides attempting to kill themselves and bus owners being extorted by loan sharks, even though those in the tourism industry are partly to blame for the current problems.
It is time for the general public to come up with offers of help for them, rather than satirizing or jeering at them, he said.
One way to help Taiwan's sagging tourism industry, according to Chang, is for local people to reduce their foreign travel and spend more time travelling within the country.
For example, public servants can organize domestic group tours and spend their "national travel card" stipends on real travel rather than on consumer goods. Private companies can do likewise, he added.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel