Taipei, June 20 (CNA) Taiwan's tourism income reached a record high in 2011, but still lagged behind the other three Asian Tigers, the Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD) said Wednesday.
The CEPD said the country's international tourism revenues last year reached over US$11 billion, up 26.4 percent from the previous year.
International tourist arrivals totaled 6.09 million, 9.34 percent more than in 2010. Both tourism income and arrivals recorded new highs, the council said.
It made the remarks in the wake of a recent report by the World Tourism Organization under the United Nations, which listed the top 25 nations and territories in terms of international tourism revenue, with the United States accounting for the lion's share of US$116.3 billion, followed by Spain, France, China and Italy.
In terms of the other three Asian Tigers, Hong Kong was top with revenue of US$27.2 billion and 10th place globally, followed by Singapore at 15th with US$18 billion and South Korea at 22nd with tourism income of US$12.3 billion, the report said.
The CEPD said that if Taiwan was included in the rankings, it would be right behind 25th-place Portugal, which made US$11.3 billion from international tourism in 2011.
The report said international tourism revenues worldwide exceeded US$1 trillion in 2011 for the first time, up 3.8 percent from 2010.
International tourist arrivals worldwide grew by 4.6 percent year-on-year to reach 982 million, according to the report.
South Korea improved from being outside the top 25 last year to 22nd place this year, which the CEPD said could be a result of that nation's efforts to promote its soap operas, organize international events and promote temple tourism.
It said Taiwan could draw from Korea's experiences and take advantage of its colorful religious culture.
In addition, the council noted that the government has launched a NT$30 billion (US$1 billion) project this year to improve local tourism quality in a bid to attract more tourists.
(By Lin Hui-chun and Jamie Wang)