Fri, Feb 15, 2008 - Page 4 News List

Taiwan-Japan tourism on the increase

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

The increase in the number of tourists traveling between Taiwan and Japan last year shows that bilateral exchanges are growing ever stronger, an official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday.

Speaking at the ministry's weekly press briefing, Peter Tsai (蔡明耀), deputy executive director of the ministry's Committee on Japanese Affairs, said that last year the number of people traveling between Taiwan and Japan reached 2.545 million -- 1.165 million going from Taiwan to Japan and 1.38 million traveling in the other direction.

Both numbers were up slightly on the 2006 totals, with an additional 5,000 Taiwanese and 170,000 Japanese tourists, he said. Tsai said the statistics, released by Taiwan's Tourism Bureau and Japan's National Tourist Organization, were dependable.

"Bilateral exchanges between the two countries are believed to be occurring even more frequently this year," Tsai said, as by the middle of this month there had been 13 civil and government groups visiting their counterparts.

Tsai said that among the 8.34 million visitors and the NT$1 trillion (US$31.6 billion) in tourism income Japan received last year, Taiwanese tourists contributed NT$300 billion.

"Taiwanese tourists are very generous and usually spend a lot because they enjoy the kindness of the Japanese people and appreciate Japanese-made products," he said.

The ministry has extended the visa-free period for Japanese tourists from 30 days to 90 days in the hope of attracting more Japanese to visit Taiwan, he said.

Taiwan and Japan are among each other's favorite travel destinations. Citizens of the two countries can travel without visas between the two and an accord was signed last August for the mutual recognition of Taiwanese and Japanese driver's licenses.

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