Fri, Mar 16, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Web-based translators to help travelers in distress

ADD-ON:Korean and Japanese tourists buying Chunghwa Telecom data bundles would have the option of purchasing additional assistance two months in advance, officials said

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Starting next month, Japanese and South Korean tourists can purchase a translation service pack that provides timely travel advice and assistance during emergencies via an online service developed by the Tourism Bureau, Chunghwa Telecom and TourTalk Technology Co.

Travelers can buy the service pack at the nation’s airports, which includes a Chunghwa Telecom SIM card and instructions on how to download and use TourTalk.

Most international travelers are concerned about accessing the Internet after arrival, Information Management Office Director Yeh Wen-chien (葉文建) said on Tuesday.

“However, apart from providing Internet access, we also want to help tourists who need someone to translate and speak Chinese for them in emergency situations,” he said.

The bureau brought together Chunghwa and TourTalk to develop a Web-based solution, Yeh said.

Tourists in need of immediate translation can simply open a smartphone application developed by TourTalk and activate video talk to speak to the translator, he said.

“We believe the service is what tourists need and we are scheduled to launch it next month,” he said, adding that only Japanese and Korean translation services would be offered in the beginning.

The bureau is hoping to launch the service in time for Japan’s “Golden Week,” the country’s busiest holiday, which this year is from April 28 to May 6.

TourTalk general manager Jimmy Yu (游士逸) said the company mainly serves Taiwanese traveling to Japan or South Korea.

“We found that, in addition to translation, travelers needed help with other problems they encounter during trips,” Yu said. “For example, travelers might need to tell doctors that they have a stomachache, but not know how to describe the symptoms in Japanese. They might need to tell railway personnel that they have left their passport or luggage on the train.”

“Travelers in such situations need assistance from real people, rather than an impersonal translation machine,” Yu said, adding that the new product is a “combination of technology and human warmth.”

TourTalk offers translation between Mandarin and Japanese and Korean, Yu said, adding that travelers can start using the service two months before arrival through instant messaging to get advice on travel routes and have reservations at restaurants and hotels made on their behalf.

During the trip, they can video-call translators at TourTalk when, for instance, they cannot read menus at restaurants, Yu said.

Yu said he hopes the service will become an additional selling point for Taiwan.

The company employs more than 1,000 translators and hopes to launch Mandarin-to-English translation in May, Yu said.

The price of the service packs depends on the duration of the trip, and includes unlimited data and NT$50 for voice callss.

The bureau is to offer travelers 10 minutes of free video calls each day on its Web site.

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