Taipei, There are many popular tourism spots in northern Taiwan apart from the National Palace Museum (NPM), some of which surpass the museum in terms of popularity, a Tourism Bureau division chief said Monday.
Wu Chieh-ping (???), the Tourism Bureau's Planning Division chief, made the remark in the wake of speculation that Taiwan's tourism industry might be negatively affected if the NPM's Taipei branch is closed for three years beginning 2020 for a major overhaul.
According to NPM meeting minutes unveiled by opposition Kuomintang Legislator Ko Chih-en (???) at a legislative hearing earlier that day, the NPM's main building in Taipei is scheduled to be closed in 2020, with renovation work to be carried out from 2022 to 2023.
Even though many foreign visitors like to visit the NPM's Taipei branch, the number has dropped in the last two years due to fewer tourists arriving from China, Wu pointed out.
According to Tourism Bureau statistics, in 2015 tourists from China stood at 40.08 percent of all foreign tourists, but dropped to 25.44 percent in 2017.
The drop of tourist numbers from China can be reflected in the number of foreign visitors to the NPM's Taipei branch as in 2015, for every 100 foreign visitors 48 would visit the museum, dropping to 42 and 35 in 2016 and 2017, respectively, Wu said.
However, tourists from countries targeted by the government's New Southbound Policy hiked from 14.87 percent in 2015 to 21.27 percent in 2017, Tourism Bureau statistics show.
The policy, initiated by President Tsai Ing-wen (???) when she assumed office in May 2016, is aimed at bolstering Taiwan's relations with countries in Southeast Asia, South Asia, Australia and New Zealand.
In addition, for the last three years, foreign visitor numbers have surpassed 10 million and have been growing, with the statistics showing that 10.43 million foreign visitors visited Taiwan in 2015, 10.69 million in 2016 and 10.74 million in 2017.
Due to the shift in origin of these foreign tourists, night markets are currently the most popular among visitors followed by the iconic Taipei 101 skyscraper and the mountain town of Jiufen in northeastern Taiwan, which has surpassed the NPM's Taipei branch in popularity since 2017, Wu said.
Currently, the NPM's Taipei branch is ranked fourth in popularity among foreign visitors, Wu added.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel