Tue, Aug 08, 2006 - Page 2 News List

COA touts advantages in luring long-stay tourists

GROWTH MARKET The council said the nation's public security, health standards and historical ties with Japan could help it attract retiring Japanese baby boomers

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwan has an advantage over Southeast Asian countries in the long-stay tourism market that targets retired Japanese, the Council of Agriculture said yesterday.

Although the government did not make development of a long-stay tourism industry part of national policy until this May, the nation may be able to catch up given its strengths in public security, language and health care standards, the council's press release said.

Historical ties

The council's public relations section technical specialist Wu Lung-fang (吳隆芳) said that the nation has long had frequent agriculture exchanges with Japan. The historical link between the two countries also makes Japanese feel more connected to Taiwan, she said.

The council invited Japanese agriculture and long-stay experts Uno Kazuo, Hanaoka Yukimori and Katagiri Mitsuo to evaluate the country's environment for long-stay development during June and last month, according to the press release.

Traditional characters

They also helped the council survey 30 Japanese who were enjoying long-stays in the Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia during that time, the council said.

The council said that 90 percent of the interviewees said they would choose Taiwan as their next destination for a long-stay because the nation's use of traditional Chinese characters made them feel at ease even though they did not speak Mandarin.

"Taiwan is an excellent choice for a long-stay destination," the council quoted some of the interviewees as saying in its release.

Wu added that a large number of baby-boomers in Japan would be retiring next year, and the council and the Ministry of Transportation and Communications wished to take advantage of the trend to develop the long-stay industry in Taiwan.

The council has chosen a hot springs resort and the Pao-ting Japanese Residence in Taitung County, and the Tsou Ma Lai Farm in Tainan County as model locations for developing long-stay facilities.

"The attitudes of local governments play a very important role," Wu said.

"For example, the Taitung government and the public are very enthusiastic [about developing the industry] and its environment is suitable, too," Wu said.

Puli's problems

Before the Ministry of the Interior made the long-stay industry a national goal in May, Puli Township (埔里鎮) in Nantou County started its own long stay promotion in February.

A Japanese couple surnamed Nakamura were the first to take part in the program, arriving at the town in early March.

However, the couple returned to Japan after only two weeks, complaining about the humidity, lack of household appliances and the large number of scooters on the streets.

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