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Number of visitors to Taiwan hits new high

TAIPEI -- The number of visitors to Taiwan this year has reached a record 7.7 million, meeting the government's target, the Tourism Bureau said yesterday.

The target, which was set after Taiwan recorded its 7 millionth visitor in December 2012, was reached Saturday, and the bureau is hoping the country can welcome its 8 millionth this year.

If that goal is attained, the bureau said, it will offer either 80 or 88 gifts from around Taiwan to the 8 millionth visitor.

Last year, 70 gifts worth NT$300,000 (US$10,032) were given to the 7 millionth visitor, a Malaysian woman who was traveling to Taiwan for the first time.

Nearly 70 percent of the visitors to Taiwan this year were tourists, the bureau said, adding that this is encouraging news for the tourism sector.

Among the foreign visitors, the largest group was Chinese nationals, it said, projecting that the full-year figure will exceed 2.75 million.

The number of Japanese visitors, the second-largest group, is likely to surpass 1.4 million despite a weaker Japanese yen, while Hong Kong and Macau are expected to account for 1.1 million visitors, the bureau said.

In terms of growth, South Korea was at the top, showing a 30 percent annual increase in the number of visitors to Taiwan this year, driven by a stronger South Korean won and an increased number of flights between the two countries, according to the bureau.

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