China becomes largest provider of tourists to Taiwan

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TAIPEI, Taiwan — China has become the largest provider of tourists to Taiwan, according to the latest survey released by the Tourism Bureau under the Ministry of Transportation and Communications.

More than four million people traveled to Taiwan in the first nine months of this year, and nearly 1.2 million of them were from China, which is an increase of 73.52 percent on the number from the same period last year.

The Chinese tourist inflow made China the largest provider of tourists to Taiwan, overtaking Japan, a nation that had long held the No.1 place, according to the bureau.

 The number of Chinese tourists in the same period last year was around 687,000 and the number this year has seen a sharp increase to 1.1 million, the bureau said.

The bureau estimates that more than 1.5 million visitors from the other side of the Taiwan Strait will be traveling to Taiwan this year.

Japan had a total number of 780,000 visitors to the island in the first nine months of this year, according to the survey.

The launch of cross-strait direct flights together with Taiwan opening doors to mainland tourists on package tours in 2008 made Taiwan more accessible to visitors from China, according to the bureau.

The survey also shows that tourist numbers from Malaysia have increased the most among all countries.

A total of 185,000 visitors from Malaysia came to Taiwan for a trip in the past nine months — an amazing 86 percent growth in comparison with the same period last year, the survey shows.

The bureau said it has been promoting Taiwan tourism in the Southeast Asia country for quite some time, which may explain why the number of Malaysian visitors has grown.