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Tourism bureau believes it's 'Time for Taiwan'
Publication Date : 05-07-2012
As growing numbers of tourists are coming to Taiwan, more and more attractions are being discovered thanks to the increasing transportation options on offer.
According to David W.J. Hsieh, who assumed the post of director-general of the Tourism Bureau under the Ministry of Transportation and Communications in April, authorities must continue drawing people's attention to what's fun in Taiwan.
'Time for Taiwan'
“Time for Taiwan”, the bureau's slogan for this year and the next, aims to build Taiwan's image as a destination for, among other things, dining, culture, Lohas(Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability) and shopping. Through the campaign the bureau will also offer tourists coming from different countries travel information tailored especially to their interests.
“Marketing strategies based on unique stories that every locale has to offer are central. For example, military relics left by Japanese suicide boat Shinyo from the end of WWII were recently discovered in Penghu.
The Lishan Guesthouse, which used to host former President Chiang Kai-shek, will be open to the public soon after two years of renovations,” Hsieh said in a recent interview with The China Post.
Besides collecting local history and incorporating it into marketing Taiwan, building a friendly environment for tourists is also a priority. “To make our environment friendly for tourists, we have to think from a foreign visitor's point of view,” he noted.
In response to the fact that the spelling of road signs, especially those in the countryside, often confuses non-Chinese-speaking tourists, Hsieh stressed that the bureau has been working with local governments to improve the situation. “There's no problem with signs for popular attractions, as well as those on National Highways.
Nowadays people use their smartphones for directions and information, thus we need to provide them enough resources to look into. This is also a part of a tourist-friendly environment,” he explained.
The bureau has developed a series of smartphone applications for both Android and iPhone users, offering information and tips on different attractions.
For instance, the Green Backpack application offers 15 themed itineraries for traveling Taiwan's East Coast. The Go Go Biker is a game that encourages users to get around while passing through different levels in the app. The next level only opens when the user arrives at the spot — the Global Position System (GPS) in the phone makes sure of it.
“Our applications offer all the necessary information, from nearby accommodation and dining options to transportation and shopping recommendations. In addition, we are also adding a QR code on the introductory signboards of tourist attractions,” Hsieh added.
10 best tourist towns
In March the bureau named the island's 10 best tourist towns, inviting visitors to learn more about local people's lives. The result was reached by combining votes cast by Taiwan residents (20 per cent of the final score) with scores by a panel of undercover experts who conducted field research in the towns (80 per cent).
“We understand that first-comers would hurry to see Alishan or Sun Moon Lake. But our small towns are equally attractive. We have invited foreign media to visit the towns in the list. The effort will surely bring more foreign visitors as well as ones from mainland China and even locals,” Hsieh said with confidence.
The list of towns, such as Taichung's Dajia District, Taoyuan County's Daxi Township, Tainan's Anping and Kinmen County's Jincheng Township received NT$500,000 (US$16,700) to promote tourism and will also get a hand by extra marketing efforts from the bureau.
As for transportation, the Taiwan Tourist Shuttle service, which takes passengers to attractions island-wide, has increased its routes to 22 so far. These shuttles take passengers from train stations, metro stations or high-speed rail stations directly to scenic spots, making them a perfect choice for visitors traveling without their own transportation.
“I think the shuttle service has covered 80 per cent of the fun places to go in Taiwan. We also work with local businesses to provide packages that target tourists' needs. They can buy a set of vouchers that include shuttle fair, local bicycle rental, and restaurant discounts,” Hsieh said.