Taiwan Hits Record Tourist Numbers Despite Plunge in Chinese

REUTERS/Pichi Chuang
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A record 10.7 million people visited Taiwan in 2016 with a boost in tourists from Japan, South Korea and Southeast Asia offsetting a sharp decline in Chinese.

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Taiwan saw a record 10.69 million tourists last year, up 2.4 percent from 2015, according to The Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics.

Year-on-year, the total number of tourists visiting the country from China was down 16 percent to 3.5 million. China still accounted as Taiwan’s largest source of tourists, at more than 30 percent of all visitors.  

However, that was offset by tourists visiting from countries other than China, which lifted almost 15 percent to 7.18 million. A significant number came from Japan, which saw a 16.5 percent increase in tourists to Taiwan to 1.9 million people, and South Korea, with a 34 percent lift to 880,000 people. Japan and South Korea accounted for 18 percent and 8 percent of all visitors respectively.

Moreover, it appears Taiwan’s relaxation of visa restrictions from other countries, particularly in Southeast Asia, also helped to offset the decline in Chinese tourists. Last year saw double-digit increases in tourists from Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines and Malaysia.

There has been ongoing concern in some corners of Taiwan’s tourism industry that Beijing – which froze official communication with Taipei after President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office in May 2016 and blocked Taiwan's participation in international fora – had acted to curb the number of its citizens traveling to Taiwan. On Sept. 12, 2016, about 10,000 people took to the streets in Taipei, calling on the Tsai administration to assist the local industry. Four days earlier the government promised millions of dollars in loans and support to the sector. Anecdotal evidence suggests China’s restrictions may have hit some tour group operators in Taiwan.

The release of the annual tourism statistics also follows months of conjecture among international commentators about the extent China’s measures were hurting the Taiwan economy.

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REUTERS/Nicky Loh
Breakdown of Taiwan's record year for tourism

Total:

  • 2016: 10,690,000 total visits to Taiwan
  • 2.4% growth from 2015

From China:

  • Number of tourist from China: 3,510,000
  • Accounts for the most number of tourists; 32.9% of all visitors
  • Compared to 2015, down by 16.1%

From Japan & Korea:

  • Tourists visiting from countries other than China total to 7,180,000 people
  • Represents a 14.8% increase from 2015
  • Japan: Total 1,900,000 visitors; 17.7% of all visitors and a 16.5% increase from 2015
  • South Korea: Total 880,000 visitors; 8.3% of all visitors and a 34.3% increase from 2015

Southeast Asia:

  • Growth in number of visitors compared to 2015
  • Thailand up 57.3%
  • Vietnam up 34.3%
  • The Philippines up 23.9%
  • Malaysia up 10.0%
  • Indonesia up 6.2%

 

Editor: Olivia Yang 

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