Taiwan's tourism revenue hits record high in 2013

TAIPEI - Taiwan's tourism revenue hit an all-time high of US$12.32 billion (S$15.30 billion) last year, boosted by a growing number of Chinese visitors, the government said Thursday, as relations between the two continue to improve.

Last year, a record 2.87 million Chinese nationals visited the island, up 11 per cent from 2012 and generating an estimated US$5.53 billion in revenue, Taiwan's tourism bureau said.

The number of tourists visiting Taiwan from the mainland has shot up since 2008, when Taipei lifted a ban on Chinese tourists as part of a series of measures aimed at boosting ties between the two rivals.

The improved relations with China has also seen it replaced Japan as the biggest source of visitors to Taiwan in recent years.

The number of Japanese tourists to Taiwan dipped to 1.42 million last year, contributing around US$1.82 billion to the economy, the bureau said.

While cross-strait ties are improving, Beijing still considers Taiwan part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary, even though the sides have been governed separately since the end of a civil war in 1949.