Night markets remained the most popular tourist attraction among international tourists last year, according to a Tourism Bureau survey, which found that 74 percent of international tourists reported having visited a night market during their stay in Taiwan.
Next in line was the Taipei 101 building, with 58 percent of respondents, the National Palace Museum (52 percent), Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall (35 percent) and Sun Moon Lake (34 percent).
Japanese tourists cited Jioufen (九份) as their favorite scenic spot, while Chinese said they preferred Sun Moon Lake and visitors from Singapore, South Korea, New Zealand and Australia said that they liked Tiansiang (天祥) and Taroko Gorge the most, the survey showed.
Meanwhile, Shihfen Waterfall (十分瀑布) in New Taipei City (新北市) won the hearts of visitors from Hong Kong and Macau, whereas Malaysian tourists cited Cingjing Farm (清境農場) in Greater Taichung as their favorite, the survey found.
The favorite spot for tourists from Europe and North America was the National Palace Museum.
The survey showed that tourism revenue grew by 26.91 percent compared to 2010 to a record US$11 billion. The number of international tourists reached 6.08 million last year, another record.
Japanese tourists were ranked first in terms of their average daily expenditure in Taiwan, which includes the costs spent on accommodation and other charges. Japanese spent an average of US$348 daily per person last year, which was a 23 percent increase on 2010. Japanese traveling with tour groups spent an average US$430 daily per person, a growth of 35 percent.
Chinese tourists traveling with tour groups were found to have greater buying power. Each spent US$163 daily on shopping, more than the overall average of US$146.96.
Asked to rate their travel experiences, 98 percent of the Chinese respondents said they were satisfied with the tours in Taiwan.
They were followed by visitors from Hong Kong and Macau (94.2 percent), US (93.3 percent), Malaysia (93 percent), Europe (92 percent) and Japan (90 percent). Only 73 percent of the South Korean tourists reported they were satisfied with their travel experiences, which was lowest of all countries.
While a majority of international visitors were impressed by the friendliness of the Taiwanese, convenient transportation system, delicious food, beautiful scenery as well as good service, they also complained about the ability of Taiwanese to communicate in English, confusing traffic signs, traffic congestion and the paucity of public trash cans.
The survey was conducted last year at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, Kaohsiung International Airport and Taipei International Airport (Songshan), from which the bureau collected about 6,000 valid samples.