Tourism bureau: Foreign tourist arrivals on rise


Although a violent incident might impact Chinese tourists’ willingness to visit Taiwan, tourist arrivals from many parts of the world have been on the rise this year, Tourism Bureau Director-General Janice Lai said Wednesday.

“Except for Japan, numbers of tourist arrivals from European and Southeast Asian countries as well as the United States and South Korea have been increasing this year, ” Lai told a legislative committee meeting screening the bureau’s 2009 budget.

“It is clear evidence that the government is not only setting its sights on China in its tourism expansion efforts,” she asserted.

Lai acknowledged that an incident last week in which a visiting Chinese official was besieged by local protesters might affect the willingness of Chinese tourists to visit, but said most visitors from China had a good impression of Taiwan and its people’s hospitality.

Zhang Mingqing, vice president of China’s quasi-official Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) , was harassed and jostled to the ground by a group of anti-China protesters Oct. 21 while on a private visit to the Confucius Temple in southern Taiwan’s Tainan City.

As a result of the incident, seven Chinese representatives who were slated to attend the 2008 Taipei International Travel Fair from Oct. 31 – Nov. 3 canceled their trip to Taiwan out of fear for their personal safety, she said.

However, a total of more than 290 Chinese people, a figure higher than last year’s level, have applied to take part in this ear’s international travel fair at the Taipei World Trade Center, Lai aid.

Meanwhile, ARATS President Chen Yunlin will arrive in Taiwan for a five-day visit and will hold talks with Straits xchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Chiang Pin-kung on the expansion of two-way exchanges on travel, tourism and food security as a follow-up to their historic meeting in Beijing in June.