After a lull in American visitors to Taiwan last year, the number of US visitors increased by 17 percent this year, according to figures released by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in New York yesterday.
A total of 346,250 Americans visited the nation between January and last month, with tourism showing the greatest increase, according to Michael Chang (張政源), the head of TECO's tourism division.
He said that, despite a push to step up tourism campaigns in New York in 2002, figures had dropped last year because of the SARS epidemic and the war in Iraq. After a record high of 370,000 visits from the US was recorded in 2002, the figure fell to under 300,000 last year. In light of last year's performance, Chang called this year's tourism figures "not bad," but said that the government hopes to attract 460,000 visitors next year.
During a press conference earlier this year, officials set a goal of 380,000 visits this year, saying they planned to achieve this target with promotions and special events during national holidays.
Chang said that the increase over last year was in part the result of the efforts the tourism division had made in bringing airline carriers and travel agencies together to offer competitive travel packages.
There are currently at least 35 travel agencies in the US offering travel packages to Taiwan with a total of roughly 50 different itineraries to choose from, Chang said.
In addition, advertisements featuring the slogan "Naruwan, Welcome to Taiwan," which the Tourism Bureau had selected for its promotional material, were placed in some Chinese-language newspapers in the US, along with mainstream media, including The New York Times and USA Today. Features on tourist attractions were also advertised.
In the upcoming year, the tourism division's strategy for increasing tourism figures will include targeting overseas Chinese in the US and working with travel agencies that offer travel packages in Asia.
Chang noted that adding Taiwan to itineraries in the Asian region would help boost the country's "stopover tourism."