Taiwan boosts airport amid China tourism boom

Taiwan, which is seeing a boom in tourism from China, will spend Tw$463 billion ($15.4 billion) on a new terminal and other facilities at its main airport, the government said Wednesday.

In addition to a third terminal at the Taoyuan international airport in the island's north, the surrounding area will get an aerospace industrial park and special zones for cargo and logistics, said the transportation ministry.

Taiwan, which relaxed controls on travel from China in 2008, received 1.78 million Chinese tourists last year, and calls have been mounting for better facilities to accommodate the growing inflow.

The new terminal, the centrepiece of the "Taoyuan Aerotropolis" project with a budget of Tw$50 billion, is set to begin in 2014 and is expected to start operating in 2018, the ministry said.

The project is expected to generate Tw$2.3 trillion in "economic benefits" and 260,000 new jobs as well as Tw$84 billion in business and land tax revenues for the government from 2011 to 2030, a transportation official said.

The "economic benefits" include growing revenues for construction companies, raw material suppliers, airlines, transportation service providers as well as spending from more visitors, he said.

The airport, which was inaugurated 30 years ago, has been a frequent target of criticism, with complaints ranging from leaking toilets and roofs to a lack of trolleys.

International visitors to the island reached a record 6.08 million in 2011, compared with the previous high of 5.5 million in 2010, according to the tourism bureau.

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