Sun, Feb 15, 2004 - Page 17 News List

`Naruwan! Welcome to Taiwan!'

As part of the government's plan to double the number of tourists coming to the country, it is being marketed abroad more than ever before

By Yu Sen-lun  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwan is getting more international visibility, such as this boat festival of Tao Aboriginal people, because of the govenrnment's intention to double tourist numbers by 2008.

PHOTO COURTESY OF TOURISM BUREAU

It's common to see travel commercials from different Asian countries on CNN Asia. Usually they feature Thailand, Hong Kong and Malaysia, but in the last three months there has been a 30-second ad packed with images of Chinese temples, mountains, items of Chinese cuisine and elements of Aboriginal culture, accompanied by pounding drums. At the end, a voiceover says: "Naruwan! Welcome to Taiwan!"

William Trainor, an English teacher living in Taipei, said he was surprised to see these images about Taiwan on CNN, but had no idea what Naruwan meant. "I thought it was the name of another island." It wasn't until later his roommates told him it was Aboriginal for "Hello."

"Naruwan" is the government's slogan for Visit Taiwan Year (2004台灣觀光年). Apart from CNN Asia commercial, two other ads were broadcast on CNN Europe and CNN US, said Su Chern-tyan (蘇成田), the director general of the Tourism Bureau of Ministry of Transportation and Communications (觀光局). These latter ads pointed out where Taiwan is and the other extolled the beauty of the island.

"It's true that we have seldom promoted Taiwan on international channels in the past. Now, we want to let the world know that Taiwan is not just an industrial island making computer chips, or a place facing military threats from China. We want to change people's perceptions about Taiwan, where you can do a lot traveling," Su said.

As for "Naruwan," Su said the slogan was chosen by an Internet vote of some 150,000 votes, just beating out: "Nie Hao Ma?" (How are you?).

"We hope the slogan will become like `Aloha' in Hawaii, becoming a word that Taiwanese people welcome foreigners with," he said, adding that although Taiwanese people don't often say Naruwan, the word would now be used frequently at tourist spots and performance venues.

Other efforts to promote the 2004 Visit Taiwan Year include two ads in Time magazine. One features the Eight Generals, a religious spectacle, and the other features the tallest office building in the world, the Taipei 101 building. Last year, the Tourism Bureau, with Taiwan's China Motors (中華汽車), sponsored a three-episode program introducing Taroko Gorge in Hualien County to the world. The bureau also sponsored the Asian Challenge program on National Geographic Channel and the Global Trekker program on Knowledge Channel.

These endorsements for 2004 Visit Taiwan Year comprise part of the funding for the overarching Challenge 2008 National Development Project, which Premier Yu Hsyi-kun announced at the end of 2002. The Tourist Doubling Project is a key element in this plan and intends that tourist figures will increase in 2008 to 5 million a year. With the ongoing changes to Taiwan's industrial structure -- in which traditional manufacturing businesses are shifting to China and other Asian countries -- the service industries are becoming increasingly important.

"Tourism has never been big in this country. Tourism bureau statistics show that in 2002, tourism was less than 4 percent of the country's GDP, a small figure compared with 40 percent in Thailand," said Wayne Liu (劉喜臨), an official from the bureau.

To achieve this, the budget of the Tourism Bureau has been doubled since 2002, with a large proportion of the funding, some NT$200 million annually, going toward international promotion.

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