Honourary Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (L) shakes hands with Head of China’s National Tourism Administration Shao Qiwei in Taipei July 5, 2008. Shao and other officials who took a cross-strait charter flight from China on Friday attended lunch hosted by Lien at National Palace Museum. REUTERS/Pichi Chuang (TAIWAN)
In what can only be a blow to the plan to increase tourism in Taiwan by legalizing casinos in the Penghu Islands, the Chinese government has said it will prohibit its citizens from gambling while visiting Taiwan.
“It is Taiwan’s own business to legalize gaming. The mainland’s law makes it very clear that gambling is not permitted,” said Shao Qiwei, director of China’s National Tourism Administration.
The remarks came during a visit to Taiwan by Shao, leading a large delegation of tourism officials and travel industry representatives from China’s 30 major provinces. The visit was designed to boost tourism between the two countries.
Most impacted is the island of Kinmen, which is immediately offshore of the major Chinese city of Xiamen, which is connected via a ferry service. Casino developers will likely shun Kinmen without access to the huge market of Chinese gamblers.
Tourism between Taiwan and China was banned until July 2008. Even so, only 300 of the possible 3,000 permitted daily visas were used by Chinese. The number has doubled to 600 during the first two months of 2009, but still lags far behind expectations.
Tourism groups in Jiangsu and Shandong provinces have launched a campaign to promote tours to Taiwan, with the goal of 10,000 residents from each of the provinces traveling to Taiwan between late February and June.