English services for foreign residents and visitors to Taiwan will raise the country’s global competitiveness and benefit local businesses, a Research, Development and Evaluation Commission (RDEC) official said yesterday.
“The government has to serve not only its citizens but also foreign visitors and residents in Taiwan, as they are ‘customers,’” RDEC Deputy Minister Sung Yu-hsieh (宋餘俠) said at the award ceremony of the 2009 English Services Emblem Certification Ceremony and Exposition held to honor companies that provide good quality English services.
The certificate, conferred to businesses that provide excellent English service, is one of several government programs aimed at creating a friendly living environment for foreigners.
Of the 723 businesses registered for the program, 714 received certification after evaluation, including 46 businesses that received five-star certificates.
Businesses that passed the evaluation were given a trophy, a certificate and a sticker, based on the star ranking they received, that they can display at the entrance of their establishments to notify foreigners of their ability to provide services in English.
The companies will also be displayed on Google’s electronic maps service, allowing foreigners and the general public to easily search and locate establishments that provide good quality English service, Sung said.
“It is important for the government to put itself in the customer’s shoes and to create a friendly environment for them because Taiwan should open its arms to friends from all over the world in today’s trend of globalization,” he said.
Nicaraguan Ambassador William Tapia praised Taiwan’s efforts to create a friendly living environment for foreigners, saying that the promotion of English services can help reduce miscommunication between Taiwanese and foreigners.
He said he hoped Taiwan would continue its efforts, as “good English means good opportunities.”
This year, the program is targeting the retail, hospitality and services, tourism and recreation, medical services and transportation industries.
“The certification program has received much enthusiastic response from businesses since it was expanded to the private sector,” Sung said, adding that the government would enhance its guidance for improving English service and offer concrete assistance to boost the willingness of businesses to provide services inEnglish.
In last year’s International Living Environment Satisfaction Survey, which was conducted among foreigners in Taiwan, the overall satisfaction rate was 67.9 percent, an increase of 6.2 percent over the figure in 2007. The RDEC said this proved that its efforts were being noticed by foreigners in Taiwan.