Chinese have made about 660,000 visits to Taiwan since restrictions were largely relaxed on such visits last July, Minister of Transportation and Communications Mao Chih-kuo (毛治國) said.
Mao said it took Japan five years to realize its goal of attracting 650,000 Chinese tourists a year and South Korea seven years to attain the goal of luring 700,000 Chinese visits each year.
Malaysia managed to attract 680,000 Chinese tourists in the 18th year of its market opening and the number of annual Chinese tourist arrivals to Thailand and Singapore didn’t break the 600,000 mark until after 10 and 12 years, respectively, he said.
In the first six months of this year, Chinese citizens made 472,425 visits to Taiwan, up 260 percent from the same period last year. Of the visits, 312,438 were tourist trips.
In contrast, Mao said, the number of Chinese visitors to South Korea only registered a 0.2 percent increase while the numbers of Chinese tourist arrivals in Singapore and Thailand all posted double-digit declines.
The total number of Chinese visitors to Taiwan is expected to reach between 700,000 and 900,000 this year, of which the number of sightseeing trips is expected to break the 600,000 mark, Mao said.
Citing the results of a recent survey, Mao said Chinese visitors, including those in Taiwan on business, spend an average of US$231.1 in the country per person per day. If each of them stays an average of seven days in Taiwan on each visit, they are expected to contribute NT$35.2 billion (US$1.07 billion) in foreign exchange revenue to Taiwan annually.
Survey results also show that the per capita daily spending of Chinese who are here as tourists tops an average of US$295, bringing in an estimated NT$25.2 billion in revenues.
Adding that Tourism Bureau Director-General Janice Lai (賴瑟珍) is now heading a delegation of travel promoters on a visit in Beijing, Mao said the group would seek measures to ensure steady qualitative and quantitative growth in cross-strait travel.
Taiwanese authorities in April this year had temporarily increased the quota on Chinese visitors to 5,000 a day in response to growing demand for the May 1 Labor Day holidays, but the number dropped sharply last month.
Tourism officials attributed the decline to concerns over swine flu.