Kaohsiung, May 24 (CNA) Tourism authorities in Taiwan and South Korea are hopeful that bilateral tourism will reach 850,000 visits this year, with Taiwan attracting 280,000 visitors from South Korea, Tourism Bureau Director-General David Hsieh said Thursday.
There is a lot of potential for tourism growth this year with the launch of direct flights from Taipei International (Songshan) Airport to Seoul's Gimpo Airport, plus an increase in the number of flights from Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport and South Korea's Incheon Airport, said Hsieh at the 27th Taiwan-Korea Tourism Exchange Conference in Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan.
The number of visitors between the two countries grew by 12.1 percent in 2011 compared with the previous year to stand at 666,348 visits, of which 242,000 were trips to Taiwan by Korean visitors, Hsieh added.
It is hoped that by 2013 the total number of tourists will have reached 1 million, he said.
South Korea and Taiwan share similar cultural backgrounds and there are frequent youth exchanges between the two countries, said Lee Kwan-pyo, an official with South Korea's Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
Both sides were hoping to use the conference to further discuss details of this year's "Taiwan-South Korea Exchange Year" and that the two sides will be able to further improve their friendship, said Lee.
Lee is one of the highest-ranking tourism officials from South Korea to attend the annual conference since it was relaunched in 1997 after a five-year hiatus. Although the first conference took place in 1974, it was not held on an annual basis during the initial phase.
This year's conference, organized by the Taiwan Visitors Association and the Korea Tourism Organization, attracted 150 tourism officials and representatives from the two countries.
(By Chen Shun-hsieh and C.J. Lin)