A survey conducted by the Tourism Bureau found that an increasing percentage of international visitors are interested in non-traditional tourist activities.
While shopping and visiting night markets and historical sites remained the top three tourism activities, more survey respondents said they had come to Taiwan for eco-tourism and “adventure” activities last year, with the ratio rising from 14.3 percent in 2007 to 29.7 percent last year. The category came in fourth among tourist activities both years.
Twenty-three percent of respondents said they had visited hot springs during their trip, up from 13.8 percent in 2007, while 15.5 percent had gotten massages, up 3.6 percentage points.
In 2007, about 5 percent of respondents said they had visited theme parks, but that figure jumped to about 13 percent of foreign tourists last year.
The survey also found that a greater percentage of visitors came for traditional festivities, shooting wedding photos or medical tourism.
Survey responses were collected throughout last year at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport and Kaohsiung International Airport, with 5,506 valid samples.
Sampling Taiwanese cuisine was cited by Japanese tourists as the main reason for visiting Taiwan, whereas Chinese tourists cited well-known scenic spots and a desire to experience Taiwanese culture.
Night markets ranked first among common tourist destinations, followed by Taipei 101, the National Palace Museum and National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall.
But when asked about their favorite scenic spots, respondents cited Taroko Gorge and the village of Tiansiang (天祥) in the gorge, followed by Kenting National Park, Alishan (阿里山), Jiufen (九份) and Sun Moon Lake.
The survey also found that foreign tourists spent an average of US$211 per day. Tourism revenues topped US$5.9 billion last year, up 13.8 percent over 2007.
Last year, accommodations accounted for 44 percent of spending by tourists, the bureau said. Shopping comprised another 27 percent of spending.
Snacks, clothes and fashion accessories were among their favorite things to buy in Taiwan.
Fifty-two percent of survey respondents said they had seen promotional ads and media coverage on travel in Taiwan.
Travel information found online was cited as a main source of information.
Eighty-eight percent of respondents said they were satisfied with their visit to Taiwan, with most saying they were impressed by the friendliness of Taiwanese, the country’s low crime rate and the safety of accommodations and recreational facilities.