Taiwan's tourist industry has gradually bottomed out of a recession triggered by the devastating 921 earthquake last year, the Tourism Bureau under the Ministry of Transportation and Communications said yesterday.
Latest ministry figures show that tourist arrivals declined by 18.5 percent and 5.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 1999 and the first quarter of 2000, respectively, from year-earlier levels, due to the earthquake.
Nevertheless, the downward trend reversed itself in the second quarter of this year when tourist arrivals registered 1.1 percent growth from the same period in 1999, according to ministry statistics.
The tourist industry rebound continued picking up steam in the third quarter of the year, with tourist arrivals posting a 6.5 percent gain during the three-month period.
Altogether, tourist arrivals totaled 1.91 million in the first three quarters of this year, up 0.6 percent from the corresponding period of last year.
Analyzing the figures, ministry officials said the tourist industry has bottomed out of the earthquake-triggered recession and is gradually regaining strength.
Barring unexpected developments, the officials said, tourist arrivals will reach 2.5 million to set an annual record.
According to ministry tallies, 75 percent of tourist arrivals in the first three quarters came from Asia, 15.8 percent from the Americas, and 6.2 percent from Europe.
Japan remained the largest source of Asian visitors to Taiwan, but the proportion declined. The proportion of Japanese tourists among total Asian travelers to Taiwan reached a peak of 48.1 percent in 1989, but the ratio dropped to 33.6 percent in the first nine months of this year.
In terms of travel purposes, 66 percent of those who visited Taiwan in the January to September period came for business or sightseeing reasons.
Ministry figures also show that trying Chinese cuisine tops the list of major activities by foreign tourists.
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