The number of Japanese visiting Taiwan fell unexpectedly in September, likely because of the ongoing territorial dispute between Taiwan and Japan over the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), the Tourism Bureau said yesterday.
A total of 121,459 Japanese tourists visited Taiwan in September, down 1.18 percent from the same month last year, said Cheng Yi-ping, a section chief at the bureau’s International Travel Division.
The decline was largely due to a 1.3 percent year-on-year fall in the number of Japanese who came to Taiwan for pleasure during the month.
However, the monthly setback did not have much of an effect on Japanese visitor arrivals for the year. A total of 1.07 million Japanese visited the country from January to September, up 15.75 percent year-on-year.
Cheng said the September decline was unexpected, and she attributed it to the territorial tussle over the Diaoyutais, sparking concern among some Japanese tourists about travel safety.
Consequently, the bureau has stepped up promotional efforts targeted at two specific Japanese tourism markets: graduating students and employee reward travel.
“Schools and businesses are the two largest sources of group tourists,” Cheng said. “We bring them back, we bring the overall confidence back.”
The bureau recently helped Kawaguchi High School in eastern Japan organize a tour to Taiwan for its 318 graduating students and faculty members late last month.
The trip was documented by Japan’s Chiba Television Broadcasting Corp to spread the message that Taiwan remains friendly to Japanese travelers, Cheng said.
“Investing in the student tourism market is especially rewarding,” she said, adding that the bureau has helped arrange exchanges between Japanese and Taiwanese students during similar trips in the hope that such bonds could encourage Japanese youth to return to Taiwan for travel.