Wed, May 18, 2005 - Page 10 News List

Tourism numbers boosted by celebrity endorsement

By Jackie Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Tourism Bureau expects the total number of inbound tourists this year to rise to 3.2 million, up from 2.95 million last year, as promotions using celebrity endorsements in Southeast Asian markets have proved effective in the first four months of the year.

"Boosted by promotions, advertisements and cooperation with overseas tour agencies, Taiwan's tourism market between January and April received 1.06 million foreign tourists, a surge in numbers compared with the same period last year. We are confident that we can achieve our goal by the year's end," said Bruce Liu (劉文越), deputy director of the international affairs division at the Tourism Bureau, yesterday.

Liu made the remarks on the sidelines of a press conference held to promote a special five-day, four-night tour package around Taiwan, with the pop diva Chang Hui-mei (張惠妹) acting as the guest tour guide.

Chang, better known as A-mei, was invited by the bureau last year to serve as a spokeswoman for Taiwan's tourism drive in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia.

According to the bureau's statistics, inbound tourists from these three markets in the first quarter rose by 16 percent from a year ago to over 161,000 people.

To build on the momentum, the bureau organized a prize draw for those who purchased tours to Taiwan in these markets' tour exhibitions last month, rewarding 15 people with a free trip with A-mei.

The five-day tour, which started yesterday evening from Taipei's Ximending district, will take them to Taiwan's scenic and cultural attractions, including the skyscraper Taipei 101, Taroko Gorge in Hualien, Chipen hot spring resort in Taitung, Kenting National Park in Pingtung and Love River in Kaohsiung.

Fifteen journalists from the three Southeast Asian markets have also been invited to generate more publicity.

The special tour, priced at more than NT$1 million, is only one of several promotions the bureau has devised for this year, Liu said.

To boost the nation's tourism sector, the Cabinet launched a six-year project in 2002, aiming to double the number of foreign tourists visiting the country to 5 million by 2008.

Japanese tourists account for more than one-third of the nation's total inbound travelers, according to the bureau's statistics. Liu expects that the number of Japanese visiting Taiwan will reach 1.1 million this year, up from last year's 0.86 million.

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