Three members of top Japanese girl band AKB48 yesterday teamed up with the Taipei City Government’s Department of Information and Tourism to promote Taipei as a top destination for the Japanese tourism market.
Haruka Katayama, Maria Abe and Ayaka Kikuchi arrived in the capital on Monday for a four-day trip.
At the department’s invitation, they are visiting top tourism spots around the city, including the Raohe Night Market, the Beitou hot springs and Wanhua District’s (萬華) Bopiliao (剝皮寮) historical area, while shooting a TV travel show that is to be broadcast next month in Japan.
The department has budgeted nearly NT$7 million (US$233,100) to produce the show.
Department of Information and Tourism Commissioner Chao Hsin-ping (趙心屏) told a press conference yesterday that the number of Japanese tourists visiting Taiwan increased by 11 percent last year and 93 percent of them had gone to Taipei during their trip.
The city government is aiming to take advantage of the band’s fame to further increase Taipei’s popularity as a tourist destination among Japanese.
“We hope that with the AKB48 members’ introduction, more Japanese visitors will get to know more about Taipei, and visit the city again and again,” she said.
The three band members shot part of the the travel show on Monday, during which they rode U-Bikes form the city’s public bicycle system around Xinyi District (信義).
The show will also feature them trying stinky tofu and other Taiwanese delicacies, and undergoing traditional facial threading treatments in Shilin District (士林).
Abe said it was her first visit to Taiwan and she was impressed with the friendliness and passion of Taipei residents, as well as the delicious cuisine. She said she would encourage other members of AKB48 to visit Taipei.
According to the department, the number of Japanese visiting the nation last year was 1.43 million.
The number of Japanese visiting Taipei has reached 520,000 so far this year and they have spent more than NT$14 billion in the city in this period, government statistics show. More than 40 percent of all Japanese visitors have visited Taipei more than once.