Tens of thousands gather on the first day of Asia’s most popular and extravagant travel fair

By Tang Hsiang-yi, Taipei ITF News

Taipei ITF News–The Taipei International Travel Fair (Taipei ITF, 台北國際旅展), Asia’s most popular and extravagant travel show, kicked off yesterday at the Taipei World Trade Center (TWTC) with the likes of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), representatives from international and domestic tourism industries and ambassadors of various foreign embassies in Taiwan. Hitting another new record, this year’s Taipei ITF showcases 1,350 booths presented by 900 exhibitors from more than 60 countries and regions, marking a 12.5-percent growth from last year. Cultural activities are one of the reasons why Taipei ITF is a crowd magnet. Forty-six performances brought by 18 local and international performance troupes during the four-day mega fair form a cultural feast for the eyes and ears. The opening ceremony yesterday showcased traditional dance from Kelantan Malaysia, with dancers wearing colorful outfits and some of them carrying sumptuous feather hair accessories.

There was also a musical excerpt presented by Miso from South Korea, Yosakoi dance from Japan’s Kochi Prefecture and Taiwanese dance students’ “Peacock Blossom,” which is a combination of Taiwanese folk song, aboriginal culture and Chinese dance. ‘Mini revolution’ in the Tourism Industry President Ma said yesterday that although this is only the third time he has visited Taipei ITF as the president, he had been to the event eight times when was mayor of Taipei. Listing the number of visitors to Taiwan from 1956 to the present day, Ma called the fast growth of visitors to the nation in recent years a “mini revolution.” In 1956 there were only 15,000 foreign visitors to Taiwan. The first million took two decades to accumulate while the second and the third million took 13 and 6 years, respectively. However, from 2010 until now, the number jumped from 5-million-plus to more than 7 million, showing a significant growth rate compared to past years. The tourism boom has boosted the economy by generating over NT$10 billion (US$340 million) in foreign exchange earnings per year, according to Ma.