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Wed, Jan 19, 2000 - Page 4 News List

Tourism booms despite earthquake, Y2K


Despite the massive 921 earthquake and fears about the so-called Y2K bug, Taiwan's tourism industry posted record numbers last year, according to government statistics.

Figures made available yesterday by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications' (交通部) tourism bureau indicated that Taiwan attracted a total of 2,411,248 international visitors in 1999, a 4.9 percent increase over the year before and 1.64 percent more than 1997.

According to the bureau, the increase was largely attributable to stronger economic growth among Asian countries recovering from the financial crisis that broke out in 1997. As a result, visitors from the region showed the largest percentage increase among tourist arrivals.

Better international marketing efforts adopted by Taiwan's tourism industry were also seen as having had a positive impact, the ministry reported.

The numbers were especially pleasing for local tourism authorities because two months saw heavy drops in tourist arrivals.

The worst was October, when arrivals fell almost 22 percent in the wake of the 921 quake. December also saw a 20 percent drop, which was attributed to people's fear of international travel due to reports that the Y2K bug might cause glitches in computers, including airline and airplane systems.

The data also indicated that a total of 6,558,663 Taiwanese went abroad last year, a 10.93 percent increase over 1998 and a 6.44 percent rise over 1997.

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