Wed, Dec 19, 2012 - Page 4 News List

Malaysian is nation’s 7 millionth visitor

A WARM WELCOME:While initially worried after she was approached by officials, Lin Swee-chin soon relaxed when she discovered she would receive 70 special gifts

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Malaysian Lin Swee-chin (林瑞珍) was the 7 millionth international visitor to arrive in Taiwan this year, the Tourism Bureau announced yesterday.

Lin, 71, came to Taiwan with her four daughters and three grandsons for a seven-day trip to Taiwan. She arrived at Terminal 1 at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport on a Cathay Pacific flight.

The bureau said Lin appeared terrified when she was taken aside by an immigration officer and thought that something was wrong with her passport.

She was relieved after hearing Tourism Bureau officials explain the situation.

As the nation’s 7 millionth international tourist, Lin will receive 70 special gifts from the bureau, including round-trip plane tickets to Taiwan, three free nights at the Howard Hotel, a tablet computer, a five-day pass to the nation’s two railway systems, an EasyCard for Taipei’s MRT System with NT$10,000 on it, as well as other souvenirs.

The bureau said it was expecting the arrival of the 7 millionth tourist yesterday evening because statistics from the National Immigration Agency (NIA) showed that about 6.98 million international visitors had arrived by Monday.

Not knowing where the tourist would arrive, the bureau dispatched personnel to the terminals at the international airports in Taoyuan, Taipei, Greater Taichung, Greater Kaohsiung, as well as the seaport in Kinmen.

Apart from the gifts, Lin was also a greeted by a dance performance at the airport. She and her family were also invited to attend a press conference at the Executive Yuan today.

Afterward, they are to visit the Shilin Night Market, Sun Moon Lake (日月潭), Alishan (阿里山), Greater Tainan and Greater Kaohsiung. They will leave Taiwan from Kaohsiung International Airport on Monday.

Bureau statistics show that revenue generated by international tourists topped US$11 billion last year, which is about NT$326 billion.

The amount could exceed NT$340 billion this year, the bureau said.

In related news, Minister of Transportation and Communications Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) said the nation would promote a certification system for culinary dishes offered to tour groups, so international tourists can taste a variety of Taiwanese food.

Earlier this year, the Tourism Bureau held a competition among 144 hotels and restaurants that serve foreign tourists. After an evaluation, the bureau chose 30 locations which serve the most characteristically Taiwanese dishes and each was awarded a plaque.

Mao said more than 60 percent of international tourists come to Taiwan in tour groups.

While Taiwanese cuisine is diverse and exquisite, the dishes served to tour groups appear to have little variety and seem to be identical nationwide, he said.

He said that both restaurants and local governments must consider how they can use locally produced ingredients to make dishes which would impress visitors.

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