Japan and Taiwan target 3 million tourist exchanges


Taipei – Taiwan and Japan have set a target of 3 million visits by tourists between the two countries for this year, which has been designated as the Taiwan-Japan Tourism Exchange Year, Minister of Transportation and Communications Mao Chi-kuo said Monday.

Mao said at the third Taiwan-Japan Tourism Summit Forum in the central county of Nantou that Taiwan hopes to attract 1.25 million Japanese visitors to Taiwan this year, while Japan aims to lure 1.75 Taiwanese tourists.

The target was set earlier in the year after Taiwan designated 2010 as the year for strengthening tourism exchanges with Japan, while Japan named the year as Japan-Taiwan Cultural Exchange Year, according to the Tourism Bureau under the Ministry of Transportation.

Chang Shuo-lao, honorary chairman of the Taiwan Visitors Association, said during the forum that the performance of the tourism industry around the world has been badly affected by the financial crisis and the H1N1 flu outbreaks.

Last year, The number of Japanese visitors to Taiwan posted a slight decline but still stood above 1 million for the fifth consecutive year, making Japan the country’s largest source of foreign tourists, according to Chang.

Toru Nakamura, chairman of the Japan Tourism Association, said that last year was a hard year for Japan’s tourism industry mainly because of the appreciation of the Japanese yen that dampened foreign travelers’ interest in visiting.

However, with frequent exchanges between Taiwan and Japan and an additional flight route scheduled to be launched in October between Taipei’s Songshan airport and Tokyo’s Haneda airport, the tourism industry for the two countries is expected to rebound this year, Nakamura added.

Chang also said that in addition to the initiative of establishing the extra flight route, travel agencies on both sides could get a boost because of sharp cuts in operating costs following asubstantial increase in the number of weekly flights from 28 to 45 between Taiwan and Japan’s Kansai and central region, as well as an increase in the number of flights between Taipei and Okinawa.

According to statistics, Taiwanese people made more than 1.11 million visits to Japan last year, which means Japan is still one of the popular tourist destinations among Taiwanese.

The Taiwan-Japan Tourism Summit Forum was established in 2008 as a platform for dialogue between tourism officials and representatives from the tourism sector in the two countries in light of a dwindling number of mutual visits due to the economic downturn.

The second forum was held in Japan in 2009, which gave birth to the project to implement the new flight route.