The New Southbound Policy has clearly begun to benefit the tourism industry, the Executive Yuan's Office of Trade Negotiations reported today, with visitor arrivals from the targeted countries totaling 166,931 in October. That increase reflects a year-on-year growth rate of 25.4 percent despite an overall 8.7 percent drop in global visitors, with even more tourists from the targeted countries expected going forward.
According to the Tourism Bureau, arrivals from 15 out of the 18 targeted countries increased in October. The exceptions were Laos, Nepal and Bangladesh. Visitor arrivals from the following four countries grew by over 60 percent year-on-year: Cambodia (87.8 percent), Vietnam (73.7 percent), Thailand (73.3 percent) and Brunei (68.3 percent). In addition, visitor arrivals by Australian nationals grew 40 percent year-on-year to 9,161 in October.
This upward trend was also apparent in the year-to-date figures, as the Office of Trade Negotiations said the number of visitors from the targeted countries, and especially from Southeast Asia, has grown considerably. During the first 10 months of this year 143,190 Thai nationals visited Taiwan, registering the biggest year-on-year increase (47.1 percent) among the targeted countries, followed by Vietnam's 153,360 visits (24.3 percent) and the Philippines' 134,654 visits (18.8 percent).
Since the inception of the New Southbound Policy, the government has offered a multitude of incentives to attract tourists from the targeted regions, including granting visa-free privileges to Thai and Bruneian nationals for a stay of up to 30 days, allowing visitors from Myanmar Cambodia and Laos to enter Taiwan visa-free if they meet certain requirements, and streamlining visa procedures for tour group travelers. The Trade Negotiation Office said these measures have produced positive results, while encouraging the tourism industry to take advantage of the business opportunities created by the New Southbound Policy.