New tourism head confident of quick boost in Japanese visitors

09/19/2016 06:25 PM
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Tourism Bureau Director-General Chou Yung-hui.
Tourism Bureau Director-General Chou Yung-hui.

Taipei, Sept. 19 (CNA) The new director-general of Taiwan's Tourism Bureau has confidence that he will push the number of Japanese visitors to Taiwan above 2 million over the next year instead of two years has his superior had hoped.

"It won't take two years to reach the goal. One year will be enough," said Chou Yung-hui (周永暉) during a handover ceremony on Monday.

Chou, who was director-general of the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) before taking on his new post, has been given the goal of helping Taiwan's tourism industry undergo a transformation.

At Monday's ceremony, Deputy Transportation Minister Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材) made clear that Taiwan's tourism sector needed to become more quality-oriented, and he asked Chou to take on the challenge.

Wang praised Chou for having forged cooperation with Japan to promote bilateral railway tourism during his time atop the TRA, and he expressed the hope that the number of Japanese visitors to Taiwan could increase to 2 million within two years.

Chou replied confidently that the goal could be achieved within one year, though the boast was not as ambitious as it seemed.

A total of 1.63 million Japanese visited Taiwan in 2015 when the Japanese yen was particularly weak, and Japanese visitor arrivals were up 17.93 percent from the same period a year earlier in the first seven months of 2016 as the yen has gained strength.

Should that pace of growth hold, and there's no reason to think it won't given that Japanese arrivals have risen at least 16 percent year-on-year in six of the first seven months this year, the total number of Japanese visiting Taiwan in 2016 will surpass 1.9 million.

That would put the 2 million visitor target within close reach.

Meanwhile, on the decline in visitor numbers from China to Taiwan in recent months, Chou did not address how he might reverse the trend, instead saying that it is all about "treating others with good will and making friends with sincerity."

As Taiwan welcomes more tourists from countries such as Japan, South Korea and India, Chou said Taiwan needed to examine if it truly understands foreign tourists' needs and contended that the country should try to create tourism value based on their preferences.

Chinese visitor numbers were down 15.03 percent year-on-year in July, after falling about 12 percent in May and June, according to Tourism Bureau data.

Travel groups have held protests over the dwindling numbers, caused in part by Beijing's effort to put pressure on the government of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), which took office in May and has not been as favorably disposed to China as its predecessor.

China accounted for about 40 percent of foreign visitor arrivals in Taiwan in 2015, but that was down to about 35 percent in July.

(By Wang Shu-fen and Elizabeth Hsu)ENDITEM/ls

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