Thu, Oct 05, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Tourist numbers can top last year’s record: Hochen

Staff writer, with CNA

Minister of Transportation and Communications Hochen Tan talks to the media during a news conference in Taipei on Monday.

Photo: Chen Yi-chia, Taipei Times

The number of foreign tourists visiting the nation this year can exceed last year’s record number, despite a weakness in the tourism industry early this year, Minister of Transportation and Communications Hochen Tan (賀陳旦) said during a legislative session on Monday.

A total of 6.87 million tourists visited the nation in the first eight months of this year, a decline of 3.89 percent from the same period last year, but Hochen said there are indications that the situation might improve.

Visits by Chinese tourists had fallen every month from January to July on an annual basis, but the trend reversed in August, when 249,999 Chinese came to Taiwan, compared with 248,538 in August last year, Hochen said.

The minister said he expects to see significant growth in arrivals from Southeast Asian nations thanks to the government’s New Southbound Policy.

In the wake of visa-free privileges granted to several Southeast Asian nations, with the Philippines being the latest one, tourist arrivals from the region are likely to improve in the fourth quarter, he said.

Visitors from Japan, South Korea and the US are also increasing, Hochen said, citing figures from the first seven months of the year.

In August, arrivals from Japan were down nearly 8 percent, pushing visitor numbers for the year through August down 0.6 percent from a year earlier.

However, Hochen said that total arrivals this year could exceed last year’s 10.43 million.

If the goal is not achieved, it would be the first time Taiwan has seen a decline in foreign visitors since 2003, when a SARS scare discouraged travel.

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