A tourism promotional group from Taiwan met on Monday with over 100 local counterparts in New York on the first leg of a US tour that will take it to Los Angeles and San Francisco as the summer's peak travel season approaches.
The delegation, composed of officials from the Taiwan Visitors Association (TVA) and representatives from Taiwan-based aviation companies and tour agencies, sponsored an audiovisual presentation featuring Taiwan's music, dance and attractions to New Yorkers as part of its efforts to sell Taiwan to US tourists.
Grab the chance
As Beijing is set to host the 2008 Olympic Games, Taiwan should grab the chance to promote "theme travel" while the world's attention is focused on the region, tourism executives said.
According to Chang Cheng-yuan (張政源), director of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications' Tourism Bureau, North American tourists have in recent years become more aware of Taiwan, and Asia has increasingly turned into a major out-bound travel destination among US visitors.
Thanks to Taiwan's position as one of the prime transfer hubs in Asia, the country is strongly placed to court more tourists from the US, Chang said.
In the first three months of this year, more than 97,000 business travelers and tourists from North America visited Taiwan, up 3 percent from the previous year, Ministry statistics showed.
TVA secretary-general Ju Hung-hai (汝洪海) voiced his belief that Taipei 101 and the National Palace Museum in Taipei are definitely world-class tourist attractions. A tour package that connects these tourist points in Taipei with interesting spots in central and southern Taiwan would make an intriguing trip for tourists, he added.
Lee Yung-chun (李永春), manager of China Airlines' office in New York, echoed Chang's view that theme travel in Taiwan should be promoted.
Taiwan's delicious food, spas and natural scenery are features that should be better packaged to attract more foreign visitors, he said.
An executive of the New York chapter of the Pacific Asia Travel Association suggested Taiwan "take the initiative" in finding new ways to lure foreign tourists besides relying on the country's natural beauty.
For instance, he said: "Taiwan should be keen to popularize sporting activities, such as rock climbing, water-borne motor racing and seasonal festivals that take advantage of its beautiful mountains and beaches."
Although the travel industry executive also acknowledged that Taiwan faces difficulties in highlighting its attractions because of the proximity to China, Japan and other popular southeast Asian destinations, he contended that Taiwan must show that it possess something unique that international tourists will consider exploring.
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