Yuan Kai-zhi, who works at the tourism bureau’s international division in Taipei, said Taiwan will receive 1.2 million tourists and businesspeople from China, exceeding the forecast 1.13 million Japanese in 2010. Japan, which ruled Taiwan for 50 years until its defeat in World War II, has been the No. 1 source of visitors since records began in 1964.
The island dropped a ban on Chinese tourists in July 2008, two months after President Ma Ying-jeou took office and abandoned his predecessor’s pro-independence stance.
Taiwan received 197,987 Chinese visitors in 2008. That jumped to nearly 1 million in 2009, or about 22% of the total 4.4 million visitors.
Businessweek said Chinese visitors surpassing their Japanese counterparts reflects the change in the balance of economic power in Asia, with China projected to overtake Japan as the world’s second-biggest economy this year. In 2009, China’s gross domestic product was $4.9 trillion, compared with Japan’s $5.1 trillion.