Mon, Apr 12, 2004 - Page 10 News List

Domestic tourism one bright spot for travel industry

CNA , TAIPEI

Although the disputes over the March 20 election still cast a shadow over the political situation at home, the domestic travel industry has showed noticeable signs of recovery, a tourism source said yesterday.

At a time when both outbound and inbound travel remains affected by the disputes, tourism at home has rebounded and is expected to improve in the coming months, the source said.

For instance, the occupancy rate at hotels in the Hualien area averaged less than 50 percent last month, but the ratio has increased to about 60 percent or 70 percent, the source said, predicting travelers will pay more than 100 million visits to tourist spots and resort facilities around the country this year.

The source attributed the increased popularity of domestic travel to an improved quality in both the software and hardware of related businesses. The Internet in particular, he said, provides effective and swift access for travelers looking for services and information.

Outbound and inbound travel has remained sluggish since the SARS outbreak in the first half of last year, according to the source.

As a result of the lingering uncertainties over cross-strait ties and the re-election of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), China-bound tourist travel might further decline, he said. Businesspeople now form the bulk of Taiwanese travelers heading for China.

At the same time, long-haul pleasure trips to the US and Europe also remain lackluster because of grave security concerns among the public, while travel to destinations in Southeast Asian countries has increasingly lost its appeal for Taiwanese tourists.

However, outbound travel to Northeast Asian countries, especially Japan, has been on the rise, he noted.

Meanwhile, inbound travel has been the most affected by a wave of recession hitting the domestic tourism industry, he said. Many tour groups from neighboring countries have put off or canceled their trips, especially those from Japan, for reasons ranging from last year's SARS outbreaks to the recent political unrest.

To reverse this trend, the Tourism Bureau has launched campaigns overseas to lure more foreign tourists.

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