Chen said the model has opened up an alternative path for traditional industries that wish to boost their market performance.
The metamorphosis of old factories into tourist destinations, however, is no easy task.
“We had no idea what factory tourism was in the beginning. We even flew out to Japan to find answers,” said Lee Ku-tsung (李坤聰), public relations manager of Kuo Yuan Ye Foods Co. Ltd (郭元益), a household name for wedding pastries.
“In the past, we concentrated on making the best pastries. But now, we also need to focus on ways of reaching out,” to the public, Lee added.
Kuo Yuan Ye set up a green concept building next to its old establishment in Taoyuan County last year. Visitors are invited to make their own pineapple cake in a spacious room before watching how experienced bakers do it in the factory.
“Factory tourism is a great platform to promote business,” Lee explained. He added that with fewer and fewer people getting married and ordering traditional pastries, they need to expand their target customers, meet new demands and — most importantly — let people know they offer a quality product.
“What better way to do that than inviting them in for a tour?”
Chang Chen-ling (張鎮凌), a manager at White Wood House (白木屋), a local cake company established in 1997, said that factory staff also benefit from more visitors.
Each employee is reminded of their importance and are encouraged by visitor applause, said Chang as he introduced an assembly line.
The company motto, “happiness,” is thus delivered to both the consumer and the producer through this process, while enhancing the brand’s image, he added.
“Incorporating tourism in all industrial sectors is an unstoppable trend,” said Chang, who is optimistic about the niche’s future growth.
■ Services provided by these factories vary. Some require an entrance fee, others are free, charging only for the for do-it-yourself materials (NT$50 to NT$300). It’s best to call the factories up before setting off because the operating hours are different and some only accept appointments from large tour groups.
Cha Shan Fang (茶山房), 64-10 Baiji Rd, Sansia Dist, New Taipei City (新北市三峽區白雞路64之10號), tel: (02) 2671-4400. On the Net: www.teasoap.com.tw
Kuo Yuan Ye Foods Co. Ltd (郭元益), 1, Ln 9, Chinnian Rd, Yangmei City, Taoyuan County (桃園縣楊梅市青年路9巷1號), tel: (03) 464-3545. On the Net: www.kuos.com
White Wood House (白木屋), 6, Alley 22, Ln 813, Gaoshi Rd, Yangmei City, Taoyuan County (桃園縣楊梅市高獅路813巷22弄6號), tel: (03) 496-5757. On the Net: www.wwhouse.com.tw