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Taiwan says to offer US$960m in preferred loans to tourism sector as Chinese tourist numbers fall

[TAIPEI] The Taiwan government said on Thursday it will offer NT$30 billion (S$1.28 billion) in preferred loans to the tourism industry amid a fall in the number of Chinese tourists visiting the island.

The loans, along with other measures aimed at helping the struggling sector, come days ahead of a planned demonstration in Taipei by hotels, tour bus companies and travel agents to demand government support.

It would be the first big protest following a dip in Taiwan-China ties since President Tsai Ing-wen took office in May. Beijing cut a communication mechanism in June because Tsai declined to recognize the "1992 consensus".

China has insisted that Mr Tsai recognize the "1992 consensus" between its Communists and Taiwan's then-ruling Nationalists, who agreed that there is only one China, with each having its own interpretation of what that means.

Government data showed tourist numbers fell 15 per cent year on year in July and probably fell further in August.

Premier Lin Chuan has approved the loan, which has lower interest rates than in the market, as well as tax deductions as part of broader efforts to draw in more Chinese tourists, the cabinet said in a statement.