TAIPEI, Taiwan – Taiwanese people’s enthusiasm and financial capability for travel amid global economic uncertainty was a result of great national power, said Premier Wu Den-yih, speaking Friday at the opening of the International Travel Fair in Taipei.
Citing statistics from the Tourism Bureau, Wu said that Taiwanese made a record 120 million trips in 2010, including 9.4 million visits to international destinations.
Domestic tourist attractions have also seen an average 12 percent growth in tourist numbers this year, he added.
Moreover, foreign arrivals in 2010 amounted to the record number of 5.56 million, a figure that is expected to be surpassed this year as the number of foreign arrivals has already reached 4.82 million during the first 10 months, he said.
The premier also urged the United States to grant visa waiver status to Taiwan passport holders, a move he believed would boost the number of Taiwanese tourists to the U.S.
In addition, Minister of Transportation and Communications Mao Chi-kuo expressed optimism that the travel industry between Taiwan and Japan would be busier following the inking of an open skies agreement.
He expected the number of scheduled weekly flights between the two countries to grow from 210 to 300 in the near future.
The fair, now in its 25th year, features a record 1,500 exhibition booths representing 61 countries, including 245 booths for the sixth cross-strait travel fair.
Chou Hua-yu, spokesperson for Lion Travel Service Co., predicted that Taiwanese visits to China would increase by 50 percent because more Taiwanese people were expected to travel during the nine days of Chinese New Year holidays in January.
Travel business aross the Taiwan Strait was also expected to benefit after China decided to further ease travel restrictions to allow more Chinese tourists to visit Taiwan.
Tang Jianguo, deputy director of a travel association from China’s Jiangsu Province, said Chinese tour operators would also study potential tour routes in Taiwan during the fair.
Tang said they would focus on themed tours to attract Chinese tourists such as medical check-up services, hot spring tours, wedding and honeymoon destinations and countryside experiences.
The travel fair will run until Nov. 14 at the Taipei World Trade Center Hall 1 and 3.