Sat, Sep 25, 2004 - Page 10 News List

Spa show offers relaxing getaway

WORLD-CLASS SERVICES The nation's spa industry is only six years old, but its proponents say that it could make Taiwan a sought-after global tourist destination

By Jackie Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

A customer tries out the Aqua Massage Machine promoted by Yuan Sheng Cosmetic Co during a press conference yesterday to promote the Taipei Spa Show, which runs until Tuesday at the Taipei World Trade Center's Exhibition Hall III.

PHOTO: SEAN CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES

Industry exhibitions in Taipei are usually crowded, hectic affairs. But true to the spa industry's focus on comfort, the Taipei Spa Show began yesterday at the Taipei World Trade Center's Exhibition Hall III in a relaxed, inviting atmosphere.

The five-day show is aimed at raising public awareness of spa services and treatments, and gives visitors a chance to interact face to face with more than 50 exhibitors.

"Taiwan's spa-goers account for less than 1 percent of the overall population," said Joyce Yang (楊郁雯), vice president of President Being Corp (統一佳佳), which operates 14 spa centers around the nation.

"But Taiwan has world-class day spas. Operators are well-versed not only in creating the right atmosphere, like those on the Indonesian island of Bali, but also providing real effects to meet customers' needs," she said.

This year's exhibition introduces a wide range of spa-related activities -- from the latest spa sessions, spa music therapy, essential oils, spa hot-spring hotels, spa trips and cosmetology seminars.

Although spas only made their debut appearance here in 1998, the industry has become a booming sector with the potential to put Taiwan on the global tourism map, said Candy Tang (唐雅君), chairwoman of ISPA Taiwan, the local branch of the International Spa Association (ISPA).

Tang lauded spa services as the perfect means of reversing the nation's falling foreign tourism figures.

For the first eight months of the year, the number of foreign visitors totalled 1,890,604, a decline of 2.79 percent from the same period in 2002, according to statistics released by the Tourism Bureau yesterday. Statistics for last year were not counted because the nation was hit by the SARS epidemic.

"By holding this large-scale exhibition, we hope the government will recognize our efforts and the importance of this fast-growing industry," said Tang, who is also president of Alexander Health Club (亞力山大俱樂部).

In addition to the 208 booths occupied by local and foreign exhibitors, organizers designed three theme parks inside the hall to showcase spa fashion, flower tea and vanilla.

Organizers have worked hard to bring in numerous exhibitors and attract 500,000 people to the exhibition. But one 38-year-old visitor felt a bit disappointed.

"It would be better if more spa operators could come to provide us with more information," said spa lover Lu Shan-ling (盧善玲), adding that she usually spent more than NT$10,000 a year to relieve stress and stimulate her metabolic rate.

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