Tourism industry rushes to meet demand

CHINA – Hotels and other businesses catering to mainland visitors are in a mad rush to expand their capacities in order to accommodate the massive influx of visitors from across the Taiwan Strait, according to an industry source.

Some of them have done so by buying out lesser competitors or run-down hotels, others have tried by converting existing residential or office buildings into hotels, according to a source in the tourism industry.

Hotel rooms in the southern port city of Kaohsiung are already at a premium, as wave after wave of visitors from mainland China come in an increasing number of guided groups. Hotels there will barely be able to meet demand when individual tourists are allowed in come June this year.

As a result, hotel projects have mushroomed in the port city, as more and more financiers invest money in building hotels there, paying as much as NT$960,000 a ping to scrounge up scarce local land.

Setting its sights on the influx of mainlanders, a hotel chain paid NT$200 million for a 22-story building in downtown Kaohisung and is expected to invest another NT$200 million converting it into a hotel exclusively for mainlanders

Frank Lin Fu-nan (林富男), hotelier and chief convener of the Kaohsiung-Pingtung Tourism Alliance, said yesterday April is the busiest month of the year in terms of visits by mainlanders, but will pale in comparison to this April, when many mainlanders have canceled their trips to radiation-affected parts of Japan in favor of Taiwan.

Up to 10,000 accommodations are provided in Kaohsiung on a daily basis, Lin said, adding that the government’s decision to allow individual mainland visitors will usher in another wave of mainlanders come June, which is typically a slow season.

A total of 8,611 mainland tourists are admitted to Taiwan daily, and the number is much higher if those who merely stop over on their way to a third country are included, Ma Yi-lung(馬一龍), director of the Kaohsiung Association of Travel Agents, said yesterday, adding that a further increase is expected if mainlanders are allowed to visit Taiwan as individual tourists.

Competition, already fierce in the hospitality industry, will likely further intensify.

Some hotels are trying to allure mainlanders with steep discounts, while others boast their own restaurants on hotel premises. Some only admit mainlanders and even motels are doing what they can to drum up business.

Source: China Post