Promising to turn Taiwan into one of Asia’s prime travel destinations in the next 10 years, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday said that tourism would become a growth driver for the nation’s economy, generating more than NT$1 trillion (US$33 billion) in output.
“We introduced the ‘Big Southern Project’ on Sunday, which is to be enforced to balance development in northern and southern Taiwan. Our goal is that the tourism industry becomes a locomotive that drives the economy forward,” she said at the opening of the “Tourism 2030: National Tourism Policy Development Conference.”
As of last week, Taiwan had received 11.11 million international visitors this year, which would be the fifth year that the number of foreign travelers has exceeded 10 million, Tsai said.
Photo: Chu Pei-hsiung, Taipei Times
The latest Global Muslim Travel Index ranked Taiwan No. 3 among its non-Muslim country travel destinations, she added.
“The most important thing is that all these statistics and rankings are real, not numbers that the government has inflated,” she said.
Tsai added that she was the nation’s first president to organize a campaign to invite Internet celebrities to come and spend one night at the Presidential Office, as a way to introduce Taiwan to the world.
One of them, Palestinian-Israeli Nuseir Yassin, posted videos on his Facebook page titled “Nas Daily,” which is followed by more than 14 million people around the world, Tsai said, adding that the nation would have more exposure in the international community through Internet celebrities like Yassin.
As the government would concentrate on promoting Taiwan’s mountains and other ecological resources to international tourists next year, Tsai said that it would also introduce Aboriginal cultures, which would add value to the nation’s tourism industry.
Asked why the nation has seen a large increase in hotel revenue, although Chinese tourist numbers have dropped by more than 1 million, Tsai said that while the ratio of Chinese visitors has dropped from 44 percent to 24 percent, the nation has still seen an increase in overall tourist numbers.
“We will continue to find new sources of international travelers and hope to elevate the nation’s travel quality and quantity by building on the current foundation,” she said.
Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said that a new record was set last week when the number of Japanese travelers exceeded 2 million for the first time.
In October, the number of international travelers who are not from China rose by 16 percent, also a new record.
Statistics from the Tourism Bureau showed that the nation’s foreign-exchange earnings from tourism hit a peak in 2014 at US$14.61 billion.
That was followed by a drop to US$14.38 billion in 2015, US$13.37 billion in 2016 and US$12.31 billion in 2017. However, the figure rebounded last year to US$13.7 billion.
International tourist numbers rose 3.05 percent last year to 11.06 million, with visitors spending 6.46 nights on average.
Their average daily expense rose 6.83 percent to US$191.7 last year, a large part of which was spent on accommodation, which was about 35 percent, it said.
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