An interview with Taiwan’s Tourism Bureau promoting to European travelers to focus on the typical scenic spots. Every year, Ten million visitors enjoy Taiwan for holiday
Sunshine, coast, good cuisine, historical sites. Taiwan is a twinkling place in Asia. This small island lies in southeast Asia with an area of about 3.6 square kilometers (about the size of Switzerland) and has attracted more than 10 million tourists to visit every year: what is the unique charm of Tanwan?
EurAsia Info has made an interview with the group leader of the Taiwan Tourism Bureau, Kunyuan Lin , to talk about the marketing strategy of Taiwan’s Tourism, the project planning for the future and to get his recommendation for some feature attractions.
EurAsia Info：Could you please tell us what are the most attractive activities or sights in Taiwan for European and American tourists?
Kunyuan Lin: Taiwan is not big but its natural resources and landscapes are very amazing. Because of the continental shift, Taiwan has high mountains, hills, plains, basins, islands and valleys. Besides that, the tropic of Cancer goes through Taiwan, therefore Taiwan has all kinds of climates, such as a tropical zone, a subtropical zone, a temperate zone and so on. Especially in the mountain area of Taiwan, there are different plants and forests in the different climatic zones. Those are very attractive to European and American tourists. To their surprise, they can see flowers such as the alpine rhododendron in the Taiwanese mountains. The diversity is very different from European mountains.
EurAsia Info: Aiming for Europe and America tourists, what is your marketing focus?
Kunyuan Lin: “At the moment, more than sixty percent of Taiwan’s tourists come from Asia, such as Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, southeast Asia and other places. Because of the closeness, a lot of people come again and again. However, for the long-distance tourists from Europe and the United States, it is more of a lifetime trip. The people from Germany and Switzerland like outdoor activities, .we recommend to them not to miss mountaineering, water activities and bird watching. They can visit the valleys in Taroko, watch the sunrise and sea of clouds, use the small train in the mountains and shuttles in the forest or climb the highest peak in northeast Asia, the Jade mountain. Or visit the grand mountains and witness the changes of the four seasons. Or come to Kenting in southern Taiwan where the sea holiday atmosphere makes people feel at ease. For good reasons it has the good reputation of being The Hawaii in Asia.
Taiwan is also one of the important conservation places all over the world. The ratio of the native and endemic species is quite high such as the Formosan Landlocked Salmon, the Formosan rock macaque, the Taiwan black bear, and so on. For example, in autumn every year, the bird fair is held in Kuandu: A large number of geese and ducks are due in the wetland every autumn and winter to spend the winter there, such as mallard, green winged teal, flower mouth duck, tail tip duck etc. and sometimes there are also some unexpected visitors. Once British birdwatching groups coming to Taiwan reported that they had seen hundreds of different species of birds in the world but in Taiwan there are 20 kinds of rare birds that they have never seen before. It’s very amazing!
EurAsia Info: According to your official website statistics, most European tourists in Taiwan are coming from Germany and the UK, next is France. During the 2010-2015, the number of the tourists from Germany, UK and France have increased by ten thousands. The number of visitors from Switzerland has also continued to increase in recent years. What is your analysis for this growth trend?
Kunyuan Lin: The number of flights between Taiwan and Europe has increased in the past few years like the ones to London and Frankfurt. We also cooperate with PR companies in Germany, UK, France and Netherlands and do marketing, e.g. in Frankfurt and London Heathrow airport. We put the Taiwan tourism image in the advertising, like natural landscapes or typical food in order to impress the tourists. Once some Taiwanese abroad students saw our advertisement of Taiwan in the London underground station which suddenly made them very moved and homesick.
EurAsia Info: In addition to increasing the flights between Europe and Taiwan, is your presence in international tourism shows also helpful in promoting? How many are there every year?
Kunyuan Lin: Every year we participate in thirteen tourism shows in Europe including the biggest tourism shows in Germany and France. Overseas units do most work for us. Tourism helps to make Taiwan become more and more well-known in the world.
EurAsia Info: The number of visitors from Western Europe and Switzerland to Taiwan is small in total but the average cost is higher than for the other visitors. For the middle and high class consumers, is there a different way of promotion?
Kunyuan Lin: We have planned two more high-end, exquisite travel itineraries for the visitors from Asia, Europe and the United States
One is Free Transit Travel: usually the planes from European airports are landing in Taiwan very early; so we assist China airlines and Eva airways to plan some free half-day tours in minibuses for 20-30 people, visiting Northern scenic spots close to the Taoyuan airport, such as Taipei 101, Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall and enjoying delicious food. (There will be two journeys per day— one in the morning and and one at noon.)
Another one is a tour bus taking the visitors directly to the hotel, to the airport or train station and providing both Chinese and English tour commentary for visitors, even there are only two people in the bus. We also launched ipad tours with comments in many languages, such as English, Japanese, Korean; the tourists can get information about the different scenic spots from it.
Some countries like Switzerland and Germany have a strong market for visitors in retirement age; we particularly emphasize there that Taiwan is very suitable for seniors to go sightseeing because of the good public security and barrier-free access. In addition, most Taiwanese people show respect for elders, so elders can get special care. This provides a favorable environment for visitors in retirement age.
EurAsia Info: Switzerland is a country with many languages: how about the development of tourist information for non-English speaking visitors in Taiwan?
Kunyuan Lin: We know that Europe covers a wide range of languages; so our annual propaganda film will have also be available in other languages than English. Now it has more than ten languages in total. However, in most places it will still be in English.
EurAsia Info: Which are Taiwan’s characteristics compared with Hong Kong and Macao, Japan, Thailand? What are the competitive advantages?
Kunyuan Lin: Besides the natural landscapes, a lot of Chinese traditional culture can also be found in Taiwan: the continuation of Chinese culture, such as the collection of the treasures of the Forbidden City as well as the vitality of folkloristic religious celebrations. Once there was a German media reporter who said: you can always feel a kind of constraint stress in Japan, smell the commercial atmosphere in Hong Kong but in Taiwan, you can feel the human warmth and the right pace of life .I also had contact with many diplomats and people in the chamber of commerce who stayed in Taiwan. Many times, they still bear the customs of Taiwan in mind and many even came back to Taiwan to live there when they retire .
EurAsia Info: This year, Taiwan was chosen by CNN as the champion of food in the world. What do you plan to do to attract the world people to Taiwan to enjoy the delicious food?
Kunyuan Lin: Our recent success is a promotional activity called “Taste Taiwan”: A culinary Journey with chefs from some major cities of North America such as New York, Chicago and Toronto, We invited the local famous chefs to Taiwan to take part in a Creative Cooking Competition. By showing the local culture and how to look for food in the traditional markets, the documentary film in the US and Canada had high ratings. Three chefs returned to their restaurants and hosted the “Taiwan food week series”. Based on their own expertise and creativity, combining food ingredients and cooking methods from Taiwan, they created some fusion Eastern and Western dishes in their own restaurants. This project recently won the first marketing price from the Pacific Asia Travel Association, PATA.
This model can be copied to the marketing in Europe, there are many famous chefs and restaurants. We can organize a group of people who are interested in Asian cuisine and invite them to Taiwan to visit and exchange ideas. At the same time, they can also bring Taiwanese delicious food back to Europe and let more people know that Chinese food is more than Spring Rolls and Sweet and Sour Pork.
EurAsia Info: In Europe, the annual vacations are the Christmas holidays in December, Easter in April as well as the summer holidays. Do you have any suggestions for our readers who want to travel to Taiwan during that period?
Kunyuan Lin: Taiwan has approximately 40-50 activities for the different seasons.
Compared to the chilliness in Europe, Taiwan is much warmer in winter, especially southern Taiwan, known as a good place for outdoor activities and water activities.
In March, there is the annual international cymbidium exhibition held in Taiwan. Up to now, it has been held for 11 years and is one of the biggest international cymbidium exhibitions, equal to the one in Tokyo, a vital platform for cymbidium trade in Asia. Furthermore, the cymbidium industry plays an crucial role in Taiwan’s agricultural export value, reaching 183 million dollar in 2014 among which the butterfly orchid ranks first. Taiwan comes into the blossom season in April. The flowers in midland are of spectacular beauty, because of the warm climate and sufficient sunshine.
EurAsia Info: Nowadays, many westerners like to visit and live in Mainland China. Thus, is there a chance for Taiwan to develop its tourism industry by taking the advantage of its location which could be a transfer station?
Kunyuan Lin: This is why we use ‘Heart of Asia’ as our annual theme because we are not only the geographical center of Asia, but also the core of inheritance of Chinese history. Although the historical architectures are located in Mainland China, the humanistic spirit is dynamic. So you can see a lot of culture elements in Taiwan.
Up to now, there are hundreds of flights between Taiwan and Mainland China and around fifty or sixty cities could be reached with directly. Generally it takes 2-3 hours. The time will even reduce to an hour and a half for destinations in Eastern China. Therefore, Taiwan has the geographical advantage of being a transfer station.
The first travel package serves some business travelers who leave for first-tier cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai or Hong Kong. For these people, we suggest them to have a journey of 3 days and 2 nights which offers them an option to experience the scenery of Taiwan.
In addition, there are potential travelers who only stay here for a short period. For instance, the number of those travelers being in-transit without entering is about 2 million. We want to emphasize the various possibilities of Taiwan in terms of culture, foods, entertainment and shopping. This trip let transit visitors experience “non-stop” fantastic enjoyments. For example, if visitors take Taipei as the center, they could stay in the metropolis shopping and tasting local foods through which they enjoy the convenience of modern life. They could also go to the East-Coast or Northeast in less than one hour to view the fascinating scenery and could also see the Pacific ocean in reality. Dramatic visual experiences during a short period is the specific character of the Taiwan tourism industry which others could never share.
EurAsia Info: Thank you very much for the interview and your tour suggestions to our readers.
| The role of the international group in Taiwan’s tourism bureau
by : Chen Yawen
English Translation: Gu Yike and Ailian Zhu