Kinmen Sets Record for Visitors on First Day of May Holiday

kinmen tourists
Tourists crowd into the arrival hall in Kinmen on May 1. Photo courtesy Kinmen county government

Kinmen, a defensive island off the coast of mainland China’s Fujian Province, has seen an influx of tourists for the May 1 Labor Day holiday, with crowded streets and busy ports of entry.

The Taiwanese island has become popular with mainland Chinese tourists in recent years due to its proximity to the major city of Xiamen — boats from Xiamen run regularly to the island that is only two miles from shore. There are also ferries from Quanzhou farther north.

While authorities noted an increase in visitors to Kinmen on April 30, it set a record for mainland Chinese tourists on the first official day of the holiday with 9,021 arrivals on 44 ships. Kinmen Tourism Department director Ting Chien-kang (丁健剛) said that the number of arrivals was too much for customs officers to handle over the past two days, with some border staff unable to take breaks during their shifts. Authorities had to prepare two additional ferries for return trips to China due to the excessive crowd, UDN reported.

The entry process from China has become more tedious for staff in Kinmen recently. Authorities may require more time to process visitors from Fujian as they are on heightened alert for African Swine Fever. And one man was caught bringing in sausages from China; he was fined NT$200,000 (US$6,470) for violating the import ban, but could not afford it, so he was sent back China on the first available ferry.

The Chinese tourists are seeing the sights around the island, but they have also been busy shopping, particularly at Kinmen’s drug stores like Cosmed and Watsons for beauty products and over-the-counter medicine. Stores have reported selling out of daily necessities and shampoo, with tourists buying multiples each product.

Total visits to Kinmen county increased 18 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2019, and the Tourism Department hopes to increase the number of overnight visitors to boost the local industry. The number of visitors traveling from Fujian Province in the quarter totaled 483,722, up from 408,053 the previous year.

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