More than 900 travel-related companies from around the world are participating in this year’s Taipei International Travel Fair, which opens today.
The fair, now in its 28th year, has become an important event for different countries seeking to attract Taiwanese tourists, while the public looks forward to discount deals offered by restaurants, hotels and travel agencies.
A news conference held by the Taiwan Visitors Association, organizers of the fair, yesterday featured dancers from several countries taking part in the fair, including Nicaragua and Thailand, performing traditional dances. The Robot Dance Show sponsored by the local travel firm SET Tours had the dancers garbed as robots.
Association chairwoman Janice Lai (賴瑟珍) said representatives from 62 countries are taking part in the fair, is hosting a record 1,450 booths.
“People wanting to know about the trends in the tourism industry can also register in advance to attend the various forums,” Lai said.
“We focused this year on ‘smart tourism’ and the market for Muslim tourists,” she said.
The fair also allows travel operators to find partners in other countries, she said.
About 315 000 people visited over the four days of last year’s fair, creating business opportunities valued at NT$1.5 billion (US$49 million).
Israel Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei Representative Simona Halperin said that her country has upgraded its booth this year and has more to offer to tourists from Taiwan.
Visitors to its booth will be able to take pictures with the Wailing Wall and the beach in Tel Aviv as background — and receive a magnet featuring the picture if they register and like her office’s Facebook page, she said.
“We are launching, for the first time, a calendar for 2015. It lists all the holidays in Taiwan and functions as a recipe book, with each month featuring a dish as well as the dish’s story and recipe,” Halperin added.
The office has also prepared materials to tell Taiwanese what they should look for when they visit Israel, she said.
Many Taiwanese see Israel only as a Holy Land, a place for pilgrimages, and they only visit the ancient historical or religious sites.
“Israel is a small and beautiful country that people can visit from the north to south in seven to 10 days. The Israeli National Trail, for example, was voted as one of the world’s most beautiful hiking trails. Tel Aviv was named one of the best culinary destinations by American food magazine Saveur. Aside from kosher food, the nation also has a vibrant scene for non-kosher food,” she said.
Tourists in Israel are perfectly safe as long as they stay away from the Gaza Strip as well as about 20km of its perimeter, she said.
American Institute in Taiwan Director Christopher Marut said that 17 US exhibitors are taking part in the fair, occupying 31 different booths, including visitors’ bureaus, credit card companies, travel agencies, rental car companies and hotels.
Tourism industry representatives from the US are fully aware of the tremendous potential of Taiwan’s market, he said.
More than 380,000 Taiwanese visited the US during the first year of the visa-waiver program, which began in November 2012, while there has also been an increase of nearly 35 percent in the number of Taiwanese traveling to the US for business or leisure.
“They spent an estimated US$1.6 billion on travel and tourism in the US, and that spending translates into roughly 6,000 travel and tourism jobs,” he said.
The Taiwan Visitors Association said budget-conscious consumers seeking travel deals, especially for the New Year, Lunar New Year and 228 holidays, will be able to find plenty of offers at the fair.
A five-day tour in Thailand with five-star accommodation could cost less than NT$14,000, while a three-day tour of Hong Kong could cost less than NT$5,000, officials said.
Some of the nation’s five-star hotels are offering discounts of up to 80 percent on accommodation costs to people who purchase their plans at the fair, while other hotels are offering discount vouchers ranging from 36 percent to 50 percent for their restaurants.
Visitors to the fair are advised to study the deals on offer on the fair’s Web site before they go to the fair, because many are available in limited quantities and should also carefully read the terms of any contract before signing.
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