Wed, Jan 26, 2005 - Page 10 News List

Promote Taiwan to Asians, tourism experts say

TOURISM The government should focus on attracting more visitors from the nation's neighbors and remove barriers to Chinese tourists, participants in a forum said

By Jackie Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Government and local resources should be better integrated to present high-quality tourism packages and attract foreign tourists, while more focus should be placed on enticing Asian visitors, pundits said yesterday.

"Compared with Southeast Asian tropical islands, Taiwan lacks similar products like beach resorts in winter, which makes it more difficult to attract Western tourists," said Su Cheng-tien (蘇成田), director general of the Tourism Bureau.

"While we continue with plans to promote Taiwanese tourism in the West, more emphasis should be placed on our Asian neighbors, including Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan," he said.

Su made the remarks at a seminar held by the Chinese-language weekly The Journalist (新新聞周報) yesterday to compile suggestions from government organizations and tourism-related businesses on how to boost domestic tourism.

Stanley Yen (嚴長壽), honorary chairman of the Taiwan Visitors Association (台灣觀光協會), echoed Su's comments, saying that while Taiwanese tourists can offer a shot in the arm for the domestic market when disasters occur abroad, more effort is required to lure Asian tourists.

"Quality and cultural characteristics should be emphasized to develop sophisticated tourism products ... since we cannot compete with Southeast Asian countries in terms of price," he said.

Taking hotspring resorts as an example, Yen said many hotels in Taiwan boast advanced hotspring facilities, yet many local tourists still fly to Japan to take a dip and enjoy a unique experience, despite the higher travel costs.

Participants also cited the lack of a clear promotion of Taiwan's specialties, including mountains and night markets. Instead, Taiwan's international exposure is generally from news footage of boxing matches in the legislature.

"To put Taiwan on the map, we need to build international theme parks, which have proved effective to lure foreign tourists," said Yu Kuo-Chien (游國謙), vice president of Janfusun Fancy World (劍湖山世界).

Since the government launched a six-year project in 2002 to double the number of foreign tourists visiting the country to 5 million by 2008, Johnson Tseng (曾盛海), chairman of the Travel Agent Association of Taiwan, said the government should loosen regulations on Chinese tourists.

"The entire world has their eye on China's booming market, but only Taiwan is pushing them away," Tseng said.

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