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Foreign arrivals rebound in April

2017/05/19 16:10:49

Taipei, May 19 (CNA) The number of foreign visitors arriving in Taiwan in April staged a mild rebound of about 2 percent from a year earlier, reversing the decline seen in the previous three months, the Tourism Bureau said on Friday.

Citing statistics, the bureau said that the number of foreign visitors to Taiwan totaled 926,813 in April, up 1.81 percent from last year, compared with the slowdown seen during the January-March period, when the number of foreign arrivals fell 9.99 percent year-on-year.

The bureau said the rebound in foreign arrivals in April was in part caused by a sharp increase in Hong Kong visitors totaling 190,785, up 110,716 or 72.32 percent from a year earlier.

According to the bureau, the increase in arrivals from Hong Kong occurred because of the Thanksgiving holiday in late April, while Taiwan has also introduced incentives to encourage Hong Kong tourists to visit, for example a special offer of one free air ticket to Taiwan for every three paid tickets.

In addition, the number of visitors from South Korea and Southeast Asian also rose in April to boost total foreign arrivals for the month, the Bureau said.

The number of South Korean visitors to Taiwan totaled 84,249, an increase of more than 20,000 or 34.44 percent from a year earlier, while the number of visitors from Vietnam soared 151.6 percent from last year to top 30,000, the statistics showed.

The bureau said that the number of arrivals from Thailand and the Philippines also doubled, increasing by more than 10,000 from a year earlier.

The pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party government, which took office on May 20, 2016, has introduced a New Southbound Policy that seeks to develop closer ties with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), as well as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Australia and New Zealand, as a way of reducing economic dependence on China.

Meanwhile, Taiwan has granted visa-free status to nationals from Thailand and Burma, while giving conditional visa-free privileges to visitors from the Philippines.

Bucking the upturn in April, the number of Japanese visitors fell 2.13 percent from a year earlier to 126,712 as a weaker Japanese yen dampened interest in traveling overseas, the tourism bureau said.

Although the number of Chinese visitors continued to fall in April, at a time of cooling cross strait relations, down 42.97 percent from the previous year to 214,196, visitors from China remained the largest group of foreign arrivals to Taiwan from a single country in April, bureau data showed.

The more than 42 percent year-on-year decline followed a 41.92 percent drop seen in the first quarter of this year, the data indicated.

The DPP government is less well-disposed toward Beijing than the pro-China Kuomintang administration that preceded it and Beijing has taken a harder line against Taiwan as a result, leading to often state-owned tour operators in China to reduce the number of Taiwan travel packages on offer.

The number of Chinese tourists visiting Taiwan in 2016 fell to 3.51 million from 4.18 million in 2015 and industry sources say the number could fall to 2.1 million in 2017.

(By Chen Wei-ting and Frances Huang)