The number of outbound tourists hit a record high of 1 million in July, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications said yesterday.
Statistics from the ministry showed that 1.03 million people traveled abroad in July, a year-on-year increase of 4.5 percent.
The number of outbound tourists surpassed 5.65 million between January and July, an increase of about 1 percent compared with the same period last year.
In terms of destinations, 27 percent of travelers headed to China in July, an increase of almost 15 percent when compared with same period last year, while 21.7 percent of outbound tourists headed to Hong Kong, a drop of 4.4 percent.
Travelers visiting Japan accounted for approximately 14 percent of outbound tourists, a drop of 17.6 percent.
Statistics showed that China, Hong Kong and Japan accounted for 63 percent of outbound tourists.
The ministry said the March 11 earthquake and tsunami explained the drastic decrease in visitors to Japan, but it said the number had risen last month.
Cross-strait direct flight services led to an increase in the number of visitors to China and a decrease in visits to Hong Kong, the ministry said, adding that it also noticed a significant increase in people bound for Europe, which also recorded a record-high.
Statistics showed that 27,000 Taiwanese visited Europe in July, a rise of 53.5 percent compared with same period last year.
The ministry attributed the increase to fact that Taiwanese have, since Jannuary, been granted visa-free entry to 35 countries in Europe for stays of up to 90 days, which is a major motivating factor for many tourists.
A report from the Travel Quality Assurance Association said that although the prices of tours to Europe from October to the end of the year are expected to fall by NT$3,000 compared with current prices, the cost has actually risen by between NT$7,000 and NT$ 10,000 since the same period last year.
The association said demand for tours to Europe far exceeded supply, which explained the increase in tour prices.
The cost of travel in European countries also rose recently, it said. Prices for tours to Austria, the Czech Republic and Hungary are expected to rise by NT$12,000 from October to the end of the year when compared with the same period last year.
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