China becomes leading source of tourists to Taiwan


China has overtaken Japan as the No. 1 source of visitors to Taiwan, with a total of 1.6 million visits last year, the Tourism Bureau said yesterday.

Bureau statistics showed that a total of 5,567,277 people visited Taiwan last year, up 26.7 percent from 2009.

A majority of the visitors came from China, Japan, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia and Singapore. In particular, the number of Chinese tourists rose 67.7 percent to 1,630,735 last year, the bureau said.

The number of visitors from Malaysia also rose sharply by 71.1 percent to 285,734 last year, it said.

Despite a relatively moderate increase, Japan remained a solid source of visitors. Compared with 2009, the number of Japanese visitors rose 7.9 percent to 1.08 million last year.

The bureau’s statistics included visitors who came for tourism and business purposes.

The only category that contracted last year was European visitors who came for tourism purposes, which fell 4.53 percent.

Tsai Ming-ling, director of the bureau’s planning and research division, said the eruption of the Icelandic volcano and snowstorms that disrupted air traffic had prevented many Europeans from embarking on trips abroad.

Last year’s World Cup in South Africa and the World Expo in Shanghai could also have been factors, Tsai said.

Tsai said the bureau had spent a substantial amount of money and resources on advertising campaigns to attract Japanese tourists.

“The outbound tourism market in Japan has been in decline in the past three years because of its slow economic recovery,” Tsai said. “However, it has hardly affected the number of tourists coming to Taiwan, which has been growing for the past three years.