Taiwan tourism growth tops Asia on China boom: report

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The Independent Online

Tourism grew in Taiwan faster than anywhere else in Asia last year on the back of an influx of Chinese visitors, a report said Saturday, quoting a top government official.

Taiwan reported a 14 percent rise in visitor numbers to 4.395 million in 2009 compared to an average two percent fall across Asia, the Commercial Times quoted tourism bureau deputy director Hsieh Wei-chun as saying.

The number of Chinese visitors increased nearly 200 percent from the previous year to just under one million people, according to the bureau, after President Ma Ying-jeou in 2008 relaxed restrictions on Chinese tourists.

Ties have improved dramatically since Ma took office, although Beijing still claims the island as part of its territory.

Taiwan aims to attract 4.8 million visitors this year, generating 240 billion dollars (7.5 billion US) in revenue, the report quoted Hsieh as saying.

Tourism officials were not immediately available to confirm the report.