Fri, Aug 25, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Youth agency launches discount travel cards

BACKPACKER DEAL Youth Cards are available to young Taiwanese and foreigners, and provide discounts for such things as youth hostels, museums and restaurants

By Stephanie Wen  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTER

In an effort to encourage youth tourism in Taiwan, the National Youth Commission yesterday launched Youth Travel (YT) cards, which provide discounts for youths traveling in the country, including foreigners.

The launch of the YT cards is the third of three measures that set up a solid base for youth tourism, National Youth Commission Chairwoman Cheng Li-chiun (鄭麗君) said.

The card's launch follows on the prior launches of the Taiwan Rail Pass and the Digital Tour Buddy, a bilingual mobile phone rental service, earlier this year, she said.

According to the commission, YT cards are now available to both Taiwanese and foreigners aged between 15 and 30 years of age at 42 outlets around the nation, including various Youth Hubs offering services from the commission, tourist information desks at the nation's international airports and Tourism Bureau offices.

The YT card comes in two types. One, colored "ocean" blue, represents the island culture of Taiwan, surrounded by the sea. The blue card will be issued to Taiwanese nationals.

The second type, colored "tribal" red to symbolize the hospitable nature of the nation's Aboriginal tribes, will be issued to foreigners.

Both types of YT card provide the same discounts, but only young foreign travelers can benefit from all three of the measures.

Before the issuance of YT cards, Taiwan did not provide for the use of international student cards, but the YT cards now provide benefits or discounts of up to 50 percent at youth hostels, museums, cultural parks and even famous restaurants, such as Ding Tai Fung (鼎泰豐), around Taiwan.

The Digital Tour Buddy, which is a mobile phone that provides travel information in various foreign languages, is available to young foreign travelers when they present valid documents at an international airport or by applying online.

The Digital Tour Buddy offers users some free air-time, and also works as a personal interpreter for important phrases such as "where can I find the toilet?"

The Taiwan Rail Pass is limited to foreign passport holders who have valid student cards, and provides rail passes of various time lengths at a discount price.

Taken together, the three measures supersede the benefits offered by international student cards, not to mention that the YT cards and the Digital Tour Buddy are free of charge, a commission official said.

The commission exceeded its target of issuing 100 YT cards at the Taipei Youth Hub yesterday.

The initiative was the outcome of work by the "International Youth Travel Task Force," which was established at the 9th meeting of the Tourism Development Committee held in November 2004

The task force aimed to make this year "Taiwan Youth Travel Year" and integrate youth travel resources in the public and private sectors. It also targets making Taiwan a new destination in Asia for young foreign travelers and students by 2008.

For more information, visit www.youthtravel.tw.

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