Fri, Aug 17, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Independent travelers key for tourism: report

By Hsiao Yu-hsin and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

With independent travelers accounting for NT$284.7 billion (US$9.23 billion at the current exchange rate) of tourism income last year, efforts should focus on encouraging them to make repeat visits and finding ways to increase their spending, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications said in a report.

According to the report, 80.86 percent of foreign visitors, or 8.5 million, last year were independent travelers, while the ratio of group tourists dropped to 19.14 percent.

Group tourists are those whose travel is arranged by an agency, while independent travelers include those on business, the Tourism Bureau said.

Among Chinese tourists last year, independent travelers increased to 66.21 percent — up 14 percentage points from a year earlier — while independent travelers among Japanese and South Korean tourists were 72.42 percent and 74.18 percent respectively, the report said.

Group tourists spent NT$91.4 billion, the report showed.

There is a difference in spending habits between group tourists and independent travelers, the report said.

Group tourists spent on average US$218.97 per person per day, with US$98 spent on shopping, the report said.

Independent travelers spent US$170.39 per person per day, with US$70 going toward accommodation, it said.

Group tourists bought more high-priced items, while independent travelers tended to buy location-specific items, bureau Deputy Director-General Chang Hsi-tsung (張錫聰) said.

While the spending of independent travelers from China was far behind that by Chinese group tourists, it is nonetheless growing, due to the sheer amount of independent travelers, the bureau said.

Total spending by Chinese tourists was NT$112.4 billion, with NT$80.3 billion spent by independent travelers, the bureau said.

Chinese tourists making repeat visits were more inclined to travel independently, while the number of people making repeat visits as part of a group tour were fewer in comparison, the bureau said.

First-time visitors spend most of their time in Taipei and other urban areas, while repeat visitors usually visit scenic areas in central and southern Taiwan, Chang said.

The bureau is to focus more on promoting independent travel among Chinese, Chang said, adding that Beijing allows 47 cities to process applications for independent travel to Taiwan.

Pending developments in the cross-strait relationship, the bureau might reach out for more cities to be added, Chang said.

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