《TAIPEI TIMES》 Number of international tourists to grow by 7％
President Tsai Ing-wen, center, poses with Minister Without Portfolio Chang Ching-sen, left, Taiwan Visitors Association chairwoman Yeh Chu-lan, second left, Hakka Affairs Council Minister Lee Yung-te, second right, and Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung yesterday at the Taipei International Travel Fair at the Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center. Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times
CLIMBING UP: Taiwan tourism numbers are up from last year and next year’s focus is to be on mountain tourism, which aims to highlight the beauty of the nation’s peaks
By Jake Chung / Staff writer, with CNA
Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung （林佳龍） yesterday forecast that international tourists coming to Taiwan would grow by 7 percent this year.
Lin made the remarks at the four-day Taipei International Travel Fair, which began yesterday.
Lin said his ministry expected the total number of tourists visiting Taiwan to grow to 11.8 million by the end of next month, 7 percent more compared to last year.
The Tourism Bureau is to be upgraded to the Tourism Administration and plans to convene a nationwide tourism symposium at the end of the year.
The bureau would soon release its 2030 Tourism White Paper, he added.
President Tsai Ing-wen （蔡英文）, who also took part in the opening ceremony, said Taiwanese tourism quality is on the rise despite challenges this year.
“We have succeeded in pushing into more a more diverse market for international tourism and have made our tourism system all the more sustainable,” she said. “While the focus this year has been on township tourism, we are looking forward to next year where the focus will be on mountain-climbing and tourism,” she added.
Taiwan Visitors Association Director Yeh Chu-lan （葉菊蘭） said the fair would highlight Taiwan as a desirable location to visit, adding that her association would continue promoting Taiwanese tourism globally.
“We hope to let others behold how attractive Taiwanese scenery is and encourage them to come and visit,” Yeh said.
According to the event organizer, there are about 1,700 booths from 60 countries at the fair, which ends on Monday at the Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center.
The fair, the largest of its kind in Taiwan, features South Korean and Japanese tourism operators as well, because of growing local interest in travel to those countries.
Meanwhile, at the fair yesterday, Taiwan’s Tourism Bureau promoted mountain tourism.
The bureau is focusing on five north-south mountain ranges — the Central Mountain Range, Yushan （玉山）, Hsuehshan （雪山）, Alishan （阿里山） and the Coastal Mountain range — in its pavilion at the fair, bureau Deputy Director-General Chang Shi-chung （張錫聰） said.
There would be various exhibitions and forums on the mountains of Taiwan, as well as information about unique cultural features such as historic trails and Aboriginal communities, Chang said.
Taiwan is preparing to market next year as the “Year of Mountain Tourism” after it positioned the nation as an important international mountaineering destination in July, when the government allowed public access to national parks.
Previously, people who visited restricted ecological protected areas in Taiwan’s national parks had to apply for permits from both the National Police Agency and the Construction and Planning Agency.
However, the Construction and Planning Agency has launched a new mountain permit application portal that requires mountain visitors to apply for only one permit and provides fast-track processing, the bureau said.
Much of Taiwan is covered by mountains, and it has 268 mountains higher than 3,000m, the Bureau Web site showed.
The number of permits issued to Taiwanese and foreign nationals for access to trails in Yushan, Taroko and Shei Pa national parks has risen from 153,736 in 2016 to 187,053 in 2017 and 201,526 last year, according to Construction and Planning Agency figures, adding that last year, foreign nationals accounted for about 7.24 percent of the permits issued.