The government should make the most of a NT$30 billion (US$889 million) tourism development fund by focusing its promotion campaign on three neighboring countries — China, Japan and South Korea — tourism operators said yesterday.
“We should focus on attracting tourists from neighboring Asian countries, which are just about two-and-a-half hours by plane from Taiwan,” Jack Lin (林健興), a manager at South East Travel Service Co (東南旅行社), said by telephone.
To maintain its annual goal of attracting 4 million tourists, the government should give higher priority to those three countries rather than Europe and the US.
In particular, the government should initiate more negotiations to increase visits by Chinese tourists, said Lin, who is also in charge of arranging local tours for Chinese tourists.
Along with the government’s efforts, Lin said the private sector should invest to improve the quality of services at tourism-related businesses such as hotels and popular tourist spots.
Anthony Liao (廖文澄), general manager of Phoenix Tours International Inc (鳳凰國際旅行社), said in a telephone interview that he hoped the government would take the initiative in building infrastructures that support the tourism industry, such as better transportation and sanitary facilities.
The government should also be innovative in bundling and offering tourism packages to promote Taiwan’s unique culture. These include promoting travel packages that revolve around popular themes such as the recent blockbuster movie Cape No 7, Liao said.
It should also play an integral role in coordinating cultural activities and performances to provide tourists with the latest details.
“Many foreign tourists often complain that they have problems locating details of cultural performances in Taiwan, which seem to be spread in many different places,” Liao said.
James Lee (李維常), vice president of Star Travel Corp (燦星旅遊網), however, was unimpressed with the government’s new fund.
He said the fund would be a waste of money as the government’s past international campaigns hadn’t been successful in attracting overseas clients for travel agencies.
“The government has wasted a lot of money hiring tourism ambassadors such as singer Jolin Tsai (蔡依林), which I don’t think is a good way to promote Taiwan,” Lee said.
Lee said the government should pay more heed to the cutthroat pricing competition among local tourism operators, as the quality of tour packages often suffers as a result.