Impact on MICE business in Taiwan remains to be seen following China’s ban

Tourists visiting the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall in Taipei, Taiwan

Although China’s sudden ban on individual travel to Taiwan is targeted at outbound leisure trips, events industry stakeholders believe current cross-straits tensions could also impact businesses.

Wolfgang Georg Arlt, director, China Outbound Tourism Research Institute (COTRI), said there could be “serious impact” on China’s MICE business to Taiwan, even though MICE arrivals make up only one per cent of total arrivals.

Tourists visiting the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall in Taipei, Taiwan

“If permits can be suspended with (a mere) 48 hours notice, event planners in China will not dare to book Taiwan for MICE,” he said.

Chinese corporate travellers would not be affected as much, should a customised group for the business trip is created, although this would be more troublesome and lead to higher costs, he posited.

Still, the ban, which was issued 48 hours before it came into effect today, is expected to create major disruption in the next few weeks, affecting various airlines and Taiwan’s hospitality, according to a spokesperson for Dragon Trail Interactive, a Chinese digital marketing agency.

A Shanghai-based corporate travel manager explained that Chinese travellers already have to apply for a business visa to enter Taiwan, so he was not sure if there would be any impact on the sector, versus tourist visas that the Chinese government seems to be targeting.

Business travel permits have a different application process and require an invitation from a Taiwanese company.

While uncertain about how the market would react following the ban, the former assistant general manager of luxury travel at CYTS believes there will be an impact, while the director of a PCO commented that the political move by China could be temporary.

In Taiwan, the managing director of a DMC, which handled a few small-size Chinese event groups last year and a larger 150-participant event a few weeks ago, sees an upside. She commented: “It is hard to do parties and events at sights that are filled with Chinese visitors. Now, we can!”

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