Wed, May 09, 2018 - Page 13 News List

Taiwan Tourism Bureau in New York apologizes for social media fiasco

Director says texts, photos will be vetted before publication following criticism of misspelled words, grammatical errors, factual inaccuracies

By Chris Fuchs  /  Contributing Reporter in New York

Asked about the procedures for contracting out to Tiger Party, Wen said they were in accordance with Taiwan’s procurement laws, adding that the bureau conducted what is known as limited bidding.

Unlike selective or open bidding, limited bidding does not go through a public notice process, according to Article 18 of Taiwan’s procurement laws. Two or more vendors may be invited and their bids compared, the law states. Alternatively, only one vendor may be invited and the price negotiated.14

Wen did not say how many businesses had bid on the contract awarded to Tiger Party.

The Tourism Bureau in New York also cited other events held in the US to promote Taiwan. Those included the New York Times Travel Show (紐約時報旅展), the Chicago Travel and Adventure Show (芝加哥旅展), The Outdoor Adventure Show in Toronto (多倫多旅展) and “Taiwan Market Night” (台灣美食之夜)at the Smithsonian in Washington DC, among others.

Wen said the funds budgeted for those events ranged from US$30,000 to US$60,000. The dollar amounts varied depending on the scale of the exhibition as well as the design and arrangement of the exhibit, among other things.

Wen, in an e-mail, noted that the New York office does not have its own independent budget. Annual funding is based on tourism policy objectives, she said, and is applied for when projects are proposed.

Data provided by the Taiwan Tourism Bureau in New York, meanwhile, showed a rise in the number of American and Canadian visitors to the island.

In 2017, more than 560,000 Americans traveled to Taiwan, an increase of around 7 percent compared to the same period last year, while the number of Canadians was close to 120,000, an 11 percent growth, the figures showed.

From January to March of this year, roughly 135,000 Americans visited Taiwan, up 5 percent compared to the same period last year. Around 34,000 Canadians did the same, an increase of close to 25 percent, according to the bureau.

However, it wasn’t immediately clear from the figures alone what was driving the growth in tourism.

The Tricky Taipei blog posting scraped a nerve with both English and Chinese-speaking netizens, with many saying there’s room for improvement in how Taiwan is promoted overseas.

Suggestions included using native speakers of English, including expats enthusiastic about Taiwan, to help write posts.

Wen, when asked, did not respond directly to that recommendation. She also did not say whether she was satisfied with or regretted Tiger Party’s work.

“Our outsourcing is done according to the relevant provisions of this government’s procurement laws,” she replied. “We will continue to incorporate and consider the recommendations of netizens.”

GATEKEEPERS OF TAIWAN’S BRAND

Blogger Cheng said she believes all of this extends beyond just the handling of social media accounts to “being good gatekeepers of the Taiwan brand.”

“It feels like every time there’s a new promotion, there’s a new Web site, there’s a new Twitter account, there’s a new Instagram account being promoted,” Cheng said. “And it means that the keys are not being handed from one agency or one account holder or one social media account manager to the next person.”

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