Taiwan is in top 52 tourist spots despite lop-sided policies

Published on : Wednesday, February 5, 2014

TaiwanThere is a catch in everything. Although Taiwan has lately enjoyed quite a showing across international media outlets, including earning a spot on the New York Times’ “52 Places to Go” list above even tourist hot spots in China, there is something amiss.
Coordinated efforts between the public and private sectors have boosted tourism to the island, with the number of incoming visitors hitting a new high in 2013 thanks mostly to arrivals from China.
However, despite the cause for celebration, there has been no obvious growth in visitors from Europe and the Americas, prominent hotelier Winston F.C. Shen pointed out.
The eight million overseas visitors last year included 2.8 million from China, alongside 502,446 from the Americas (mostly from the United States) and just 223,062 from Europe, official statistics show.
Taiwan can’t depend solely on Chinese tourists to fuel growth in the tourism industry, Shen notes. But just what could be attractive enough to draw travellers from Europe and the Americas across half the world?
Shen, chief executive of the Royal Hotel Group, says the government needs to work on turning Taiwan into an international transportation hub to make it “reachable.” He also has three suggestions for strategies to bring in crowds.
Taiwan’s first attraction should be based on its people, he says. For example, American travelers might be interested in tours of the hometowns of international figures such as Oscar-winning director Ang Lee and former Yankee pitcher Chien-Ming Wang.
This could be the basis for promoting tourism in towns and outlying areas, as people’s achievements are easily connected to places, he says.
Secondly, Taiwan’s culture could appeal to European tourists, who Shen characterizes as lovers of culture and art.
The government should invest in overseas performances by Taiwanese arts troupes, such as the celebrated Cloud Gate Dance Theatre and U-Theatre, Shen suggests, in a bid to expose European audiences to Taiwanese performers, thereby stirring up interest in their place of origin and promoting Taiwan as the “image of modern East Asia.”
Shen’s third recommendation is “themed marketing” that emphasizes Taiwan’s local cultures and diverse ecological resources.
“Quick and casual sightseeing is no longer enough for most tourists,” Shen says. “The best tourism is a lifestyle.”

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