Taiwan halts group tours to China amid escalating tensions

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Travel agents in Taiwan have been ordered to cease organising new group tours to China as tensions between Beijing and Taipei continue to escalate.

Despite China reopening its borders to other popular tourist destinations post-pandemic, Taiwan remains excluded from the list of approved destinations for Chinese nationals.

Since the end of the pandemic, China has gradually allowed its citizens to visit various tourist hotspots, excluding Taiwan from its approved list, further exacerbating the ongoing diplomatic standoff between the two nations. China’s claim over Taiwan, which is democratically governed, has been vehemently opposed by the government in Taipei.

Taiwan initially planned to resume group tours to China from March 1, following a suspension during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, due to the current circumstances, Taiwanese travel agencies have been instructed to refrain from arranging any new tours, as confirmed by the Tourism Administration.

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The decision to halt group tours comes in the wake of China’s recent alteration of a flight path through the sensitive Taiwan Strait, a move that sparked anger and accusations from Taiwan’s government. The alteration, viewed as a unilateral and provocative manoeuvre by Beijing, has raised concerns about potential military implications and has further strained the delicate cross-strait relations, reported Bangkok Post.

Despite the ban on group tours, individual trips from Taiwan to China remain unaffected. Additionally, Chinese citizens living in third countries have been permitted to visit Taiwan as tourists since last September. However, the lack of reciprocity from China concerning group tours and the recent airspace alteration has only served to intensify the already heightened tensions between the two sides.

In related news, the Taiwanese tourism market in Thailand is projected to reach a milestone of one million visitors this year, provided that Thailand’s government prolongs its visa-free scheme until the end of the year.

Sisdivachr Cheewarattanaporn, president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA), stated that despite the delayed visa exemption approval for Taiwanese tourists in November last year, the total Taiwanese tourist arrivals in Thailand reached an impressive 724,000, close to the 2019 record of 781,000 arrivals.

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Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

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