The latest project to promote the nation's tourism industry has gotten off to a good start with the number of tourist arrivals rising 12 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, the government said yesterday.
Taiwan attracted about 660,000 foreign tourists between October and December last year, up from about 590,000 in the same period in 2001, the Tourism Bureau said.
But for all of 2002, foreign tourists totalled 2.55 million, down 2.5 percent from 2001, the bureau said.
In June, the island's government publicized a network of buses and trains linking popular attractions in a dozen designated tourist zones, making access more convenient for visitors.
The government hopes the island's forest trails, white sand beaches, white-water rafting and hot spring baths could help make up for a decline in the manufacturing sector.
Visits by Japanese and Americans, the two biggest tourist groups, increased 1.5 percent and 4.3 percent respectively last year, according to the Tourism Bureau.
But visits by Hong Kong residents dropped about 30 percent to 250,000.
Officials said residents of Hong Kong are more aware of developments on the island and might have been turned away by bad news last year including an earthquake, a plane crash that killed all 225 aboard in May, and an outbreak of dengue fever, officials said.