Newly wed Korean is Taiwan's 10 millionth foreign visitor of 2016
Taipei, Dec. 11 (CNA) A Korean woman who just finished her wedding ceremony earlier in the day in her country became the 10 millionth foreign visitor to arrive in Taiwan this year late Sunday.
When Han Seong-eun and her husband checked in at the second terminal of Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport at 9:26 p.m., she was pronounced the 10 millionth foreign tourist arrival and showered with a string of gifts prepared by Taiwan's Tourism Bureau.
The bureau's chief secretary, Tsai Ming-ling, and staff members welcomed the Korean couple with a lion dance and gifts such as hotel coupons, airline tickets and electronic transportation passes to wish them a happy honey moon in Taiwan.
As of Dec 10, foreign visitor arrivals to Taiwan stood at 9.97 million and were expected to reach the 10-million mark sometime after 9 p.m. Sunday, the Tourism Bureau said earlier in the day.
In anticipation of the milestone, the bureau prepared to hold a welcome ceremony at any one the country's international airports. It turned out the law of probability counts: Taoyuan Airport is the main gate to Taiwan.
Last year, the 10th millionth foreign visitor, a 34-year-old Italian-American computer engineer named Manuele Christopher, arrived with his wife on Dec. 20 also at Taoyuan Airport on a China Airlines flight from Los Angeles.
He was greeted with a lion dance and other festivities and was later given 100 gifts valued at a total NT$1 million.
This year, the 10 millionth visitor milestone is an indication that the drop in tourist numbers from mainland China has been offset by an increase in arrivals from other countries, airport sources said.
Taiwan is expected a record an annual decrease of about 800,000 in the number of mainland Chinese visitor arrivals this year, from 4.18 million in 2015, as the numbers have been dropping since the pro-independence Democratic Progress Party took office on May 20.
In 2015, Taiwan's foreign visitor arrivals totaled 10.44 million, up from 9.91 million a year earlier, according to government data.
With 20 days to go, 2016 is likely to see more than 10.66 million foreign tourist arrivals in Taiwan, according to Deputy Director-general Chang Shi-chung of the Tourism Bureau. (Courtesy of CNA)