Thu, May 24, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Baseball star Wang helps the nation's tourism industry

STAR TURN A series of features on the Yankees pitcher to be shown in the US have provided a cost-effective way to promote Taiwan abroad

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Promoting the nation's tourist attractions on an international scale can be a challenging task, but in addition to documentaries on the Discovery and National Geographic channels, the nation's tourism bureau has also managed to use a popular sports network to spread the word about Taiwan's scenic spots.

The tourism bureau's director-general, Janice Lai (賴瑟珍), said yesterday that a special series introducing New York Yankees starting pitcher Wang Chien-ming (王建民) will be aired during ESPN's Baseball Tonight, a program broadcast on weekdays that is devoted to coverage of Major League Baseball (MLB).

While the program usually recaps the day's Big League action, it occasionally features a special report about outstanding foreign players or pitchers in the MLB.

Lai said the program would feature Wang talking about himself, his home in Tainan County, his love for Taiwanese food and the places he has visited in Taiwan.

Images of the items Wang mentions, such as Taipei 101, will be shown in the background.

ESPN will determine what they film, Lai added.

10 episodes

The special series will be broadcast in 10 episodes, with each lasting two minutes.

Lai said the entire project would cost the bureau NT$10 million (US$303,000).

The tourism bureau said the first episode would be shown in Taiwan next Tuesday.

The features will also be aired in the US some time at the beginning of next month.

The bureau said the broadcasts are estimated to reach approximately 100 million households in the US.

Wang's standout performances have made him a star in the US media. During the post-baseball season last year, Fox News produced a program featuring Wang's hometown of Tainan.

This year, Time magazine listed Wang as one of the 100 most influential artists and entertainers in the world.

Lai described the deal as a "really good bargain" and "a rare opportunity," given that the cost of any 30-second TV spot would likely exceed the stated sum.

Lai also emphasized that there are many award-winning documentaries about Taiwan, but they can only be seen in Taiwan.

"One of my marketing strategies this year is to buy air time," she said.

She added that the bureau had also earned a lot of free media coverage of Taiwan. For example, Lai appeared in a Discovery Channel program called The Thirsty Traveler, where she treated the program host to a bottle of old Matzu wine.

"This shows that you can create a huge effect with just a small investment," she said.

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