TAIPEI, Taiwan - The Tourism Bureau yesterday announced that this year's 7 millionth tourist would likely arrive in Taiwan in the middle of next month rather than at Christmas, as previously expected.
The bureau said 6.08 million tourists visited last year, but that the number had already reached 5.93 million as of last month. On average, the nation welcomes between 550,000 and 600,000 foreign tourists per month.
Bureau chief secretary Tsai Ming-ling said the bureau had originally estimated that the 7 millionth international tourist would arrive at Christmas.
However, she said that the number of visitors had grown faster than expected and the person could arrive in the middle of next month or sometime before Christmas. The bureau said the lucky visitor would be given gifts, as well as spending money.
Most of the foreign tourists who visit Taiwan come from Japan, China, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, South Korea and the US.
The bureau said visitors from Hong Kong and Macau could exceed 1 million this year.
Tourist arrivals have grown steadily in the past four years. The number increased from 3.84 million in 2008 to 4.39 million in 2009. It further jumped to 5.56 million in 2010 and 6.08 million last year.
The bureau initiated a hotel rating system in 2009 in a bid to raise the quality of the nation's accommodation. The bureau announced yesterday that another 47 hotels had secured star ratings in a recent evaluation.
According to the bureau, 222 hotels and motels have obtained star ratings through the system. A list of the hotels can be viewed on the Tourism Bureau's Web site for hotels and hostels at www.taiwanstay.net.tw.