Thu, Oct 11, 2012 - Page 14 News List

Two-month nationwide shopping festival to start

BARGAIN HUNTING:Good deals are also expected when the nation’s biggest travel fair opens on Oct. 26, after last year’s fair generated NT$1.5 billion in sales

Staff writer, with CNA

The nation will launch its first-ever nationwide shopping festival on Sunday to stimulate domestic consumption, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) said.

The two-month campaign — which will run until Dec. 20 and has drawn the participation of supermarkets, department stores, shopping malls, bakeries and online stores — will target consumers from home and abroad, the ministry’s Department of Commerce said.

The festival will provide consumers with discounts, coupons, lucky draws and other shopping incentives to stimulate buying, the department said.

Citing similar events in the US and Singapore, Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Francis Liang (梁國新) said earlier this month that shopping festivals are a good way to boost domestic demand, especially at a time when Taiwan cannot expect much help from a sluggish global economy.

Airlines are among the companies showing interest in the festival, hoping it will help promote Taiwan as a shopping destination and further boost tourism.

China Airlines Ltd (中華航空), the nation’s largest airline carrier, said it is offering limited festival coupons to Hong Kong passengers, who are known for their passion for shopping.

Meanwhile, tourism insiders yesterday said consumers were likely to take advantage of bargains available at the country’s biggest travel fair amid a sluggish economy.

More than 1,000 exhibitors from 60 countries have registered to participate at this year’s Taipei International Travel Fair, which will be held from Oct. 26 to Oct. 29.

Last year’s fair drew about 250,000 visitors and generated NT$1.5 billion (US$50 million) in sales, and the fair’s organizer said it is expecting high numbers this year because of the economic downturn.

“Our experience is that whenever the economy is bad, both attendance and sales surge,” said Chen Ying-ting (陳映廷), a public relations officer with the Taiwan Visitors Association (台灣觀光協會), the organizer of the event.

Chen said that aside from individual consumers looking for a deal, an increase in sales could also come from companies seeking low-priced packages to use as prizes in lucky draws held at their year-end banquets or as employee rewards.

Lion Travel Service Co spokesman Andy Yu (游國珍) also expects good business at this year’s show, saying that Taiwan’s travel market has become mature enough to withstand weakness in the general economic environment.

“Unless there is an outbreak of war or disease, or something like that, the market is unlikely to suffer dramatic fluctuations,” Yu said.

The latest external setback came in November last year, when severe flooding in Thailand slowed Taiwan’s tourism momentum.

Some inbound tourists canceled their trips to Taiwan thinking it would also face flooding problems, and outbound tourists were reluctant to head to Southeast Asia, Yu said.

Rex Huang (黃賢在), vice president of Phoenix Tours International Inc (鳳凰旅行社), said the company is expecting its sales during the fair to rise 10 percent from the NT$150 million in business it did last year.

“The public’s desire to travel remains high, which may be because people feel they need a break after working so hard to make ends meet,” he said.

The travel fair will be held at the Taipei World Trade Center Exhibition Hall 1 and Hall 3 in Xinyi District (信義).

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