New York, Sept. 26 (CNA) The number of tourists visiting Taiwan from other countries should be sufficient to make up for the loss of tourists from China, a Taiwanese tourism official said here Monday.
Chang Hsi-tsung (張錫聰), deputy director-general of the Tourism Bureau, who is leading a group promoting Taiwan tourism in the United States, said that for tourists from North America, sightseeing has become the main purpose of visiting Taiwan (around 30 percent), in contrast with business trips, which accounted for the bulk of visitors in the past.
"This sends a very positive and aggressive message in tapping the North America market," Chang said.
He said Taiwan cannot rely on Chinese tourists alone, but should tap more tourist sources.
He noted that the number of Chinese tour groups has slipped this year, and it is estimated that the loss will be between 700,000 and 800,000 by the year's end, even though arrivals of independent Chinese travelers have remained steady.
He said that the increase in tourist numbers from other sources should be able to make up for the loss of Chinese arrivals.
According to Tourism Bureau data, tourists from North America comprise the fifth-largest source of arrivals to Taiwan, behind only tourists from China, Japan, Hong Kong and Macau, and Southeast Asia.
In 2015, 480,000 American tourists visited Taiwan, while in the first eight months of this year, Americans made 330,000 visits, up nearly 8 percent year-on-year. It is estimated that the growth could reach 10 percent this year. Growth in the number of Canadian tourists is even higher.
He said that the urgent promotional task will be to polish Taiwan's image, to differentiate the island from Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and even Thailand, and step up international promotion.
Chang also took the opportunity to present the title of Taiwan tourism goodwill ambassador to Malan Breton, a famous U.S. fashion designer who was born in Taipei, in appreciation for his efforts to promote Taiwan tourism.
Breton shot a documentary short -- A Journey to Taiwan -- in Taiwan, which was aired in conjunction with the just-concluded New York Fashion Week, attracting over 50 million Internet hits so far.
He is planning to shoot a second documentary short at the end of this year or early next year.
(By Timothy Hwang and Lilian Wu) ENDITEM/J