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Arrivals from Southeast Asian countries set new highs: NIA

2019/04/17 22:30:55

CNA file photo

Taipei, April 17 (CNA) Thanks to the government's New Southbound Policy, arrivals from countries in Southeast Asia to Taiwan in 2018 set a new high in terms of both visitor numbers and the percentage of the total arrivals, the National Immigration Agency (NIA) said Wednesday.

Last year, 2.42 million people from Southeast Asian countries visited Taiwan, a 13.8 percent year-on-year growth and accounting for 21.89 percent of the total number of arrivals -- both new highs for Taiwan, NIA official Lin Yi-chun (林貽俊) said during a regular news conference.

According to Lin, the top five sources of foreign visitors were China, with 2.66 million of its nationals visiting Taiwan in 2018, followed by Japan with 1.96 million, Hong Kong and Macau with 1.53 million, South Korea with 1.01 million and the United States with 550,000.

Those from Southeast Asian countries comprised 21.89 percent of the total number of visitors to Taiwan last year -- an annual increase for the ninth consecutive year, Lin said.

In term of growth in arrival numbers, the Philippines, Vietnam, Japan, Thailand and Indonesia recorded the largest increases compared with other countries.

Since the implementation of a 14-day visa free treatment in November 2017 for the Philippines, visitor numbers from that country grew the most by over 120,000 in 2018, while those from Vietnam increased by more than 100,000, he elaborated.

The number of Taiwan's outbound and inbound passengers totaled 55.26 million in 2018, more than double the 24.59 million recorded in 2008, according to Lin.

Lin ascribed the astounding jump to the popularity of budget airlines in Taiwan and the new routes they have opened.

In 2018, 70 percent of the new routes launched by low-cost airlines were between Taiwan and destinations in Southeast Asia, he explained.

However, Japan remained the most popular overseas destination for Taiwanese tourists, with nearly 29 percent of Taiwan's outbound tourists choosing Japan for their first overseas trip, followed by China, Hong Kong, South Korea and Thailand, Lin said.

In 2018, the number of Taiwanese tourists heading for Thailand grew the most by 18.46 percent over 2017, while South Korea and Vietnam also attracted 18.22 percent and 14.43 percent more Taiwanese visitors, respectively, Lin said.

(By Wang Cheng-chung and Flor Wang)