Taiwan's visitor arrivals forecast to grow in 2013

Taipei, March 10 (CNA) The number of people visiting Taiwan will continue to grow this year thanks to the improving global economy and the further easing of restrictions on Chinese tourist visits, J.P. Morgan Securities said in a recent research note. International visitor arrivals rose 20 percent in 2012 to 7.3 million, beating the Tourism Bureau's target of 7 million, J.P. Morgan said in the note, dated March 7. The U.S. brokerage forecast Taiwan's visitor arrivals to reach 8 million in 2013, an increase of 10 percent from last year, with visits by Chinese nationals expected to grow 15 percent to 3 million. "We think the strong momentum should continue in 2013, driven by an improving macro economy and further deregulation of Chinese tourism policy," Caren Huang, a Taipei-based analyst at J.P. Morgan, wrote in the note. Taiwan's government will carry out a number of measures this year to boost the number of Chinese tourists visiting Taiwan, Huang noted. Direct cross-Taiwan Strait flights will increase to 616 flights per week from 558 flights per week previously, and nine more destinations -- eight in China and one in Taiwan -- will be added to a network that already covers 41 cities, Huang said. In addition, the quota for Chinese tourists visiting Taiwan in groups may rise to 5,000 per day from the previous 4,000, and the quota for individual travelers could double to 2,000 per day, he said. With the influx in visitors, Taiwan has made strides in upgrading its tourism sector, according to a separate report. In its Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report released on March 7, the World Economic Forum ranked Taiwan 33rd overall among 140 economies, four places higher than in the 2011 survey. Of the 14 categories upon which the evaluation was based, Taiwan performed best in "policy rules and regulations," ranking fifth in the world. It also ranked among the top 20 in the world in the areas of information and communications technology infrastructure, safety and security, ground transportation infrastructure, and education and training. (By Jeffrey Wu)