Tue, Nov 05, 2019 - Page 4 News List

FEATURE: Foreign travelers’ tastes are changing

DESTINATION TAIWAN:Taiwan should promote more niche marketing and change non-Asian tourists’ perception of the nation only as a tech hub, experts said

By Chen Ping-hung and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

An undated photograph shows tea houses in Jioufen, New Taipei City.

Photo courtesy of New Taipei City Government Tourism and Travel Department

While the nation’s top tourist spots remain popular choices among international travelers, an increasing number of foreign visitors are favoring independent travel and looking for more unique experiences, industry observers said.

Visitors to Taiwan differ on their focus depending on what country they come from, said Sandy Chen (陳容歆), a YouTube strategic partner for the Greater China area.

For example, Japanese tourists look for unique eating experiences in Taiwan, while South Korean visitors favor unique accommodations, she said.

International travelers in general visit top tourist destinations such as New Taipei City’s Jioufen (九份) and Nantou County’s Sun Moon Lake (日月潭), OwlTing marketing platform manager Liao Kuei-tsen (廖桂岑) said.

Japanese visitors, in particular, like to visit places of cultural or historical significance, such as Taipei’s historic Dadaocheng (大稻埕) area, while South Korean visitors seek out something different, such as horseback riding in New Taipei City’s Tamsui District (淡水), she said.

Collectively, the top five travel destinations for Japanese and South Korean visitors were: Jioufen, Dadaocheng, Sun Moon Lake, Hualien County’s Taroko Gorge (太魯閣峽谷) and Taitung County, she said.

Travel booking platform Klook said that while some tourist spots like the Taipei 101 skyscraper are popular among Southeast Asian and East Asian travelers, others like Jioufen and New Taipei City’s Yehliu Geopark (野柳公園) are particularly popular among Japanese and South Koreans.

Japanese and South Korean travelers also prefer tour services conducted in their language, which differ from Southeast Asian travelers, Klook said.

Most travelers from the US and Europe visit Taiwan for business, Singapore-based Airbnb public affairs manager Marvin Ma (馬培治) said.

One of the greatest challenges facing Taiwan’s tourism industry is how to change the mindset of people outside of Asia, who think of Taiwan more as a high-tech hub, rather than a tourism destination, he said.

International events help, as they attract large numbers of visitors to Taiwan, he said, citing the annual Pride Parade as an example, which draws large international crowds to Taipei.

Taiwan should consider more niche marketing, which Airbnb does in South Korea by targeting visitors interested in K-pop or South Korean beauty products, he said.

Some of the travel experiences the company has helped coordinate in South Korea include opportunities to meet the makeup artists of stars and visit recording studios and cut a record of themselves singing K-pop songs, he said.

“These aren’t things Airbnb created; it’s locals in that country discovering what they uniquely offer,” he said.

Taiwan is culturally important in the Mandarin-speaking community and could leverage this with activities focused on things like its folk religions and entertainment industry, he said.

Many second and third-generation Taiwanese in Southeast Asia rely on English-language materials to understand Taiwan’s folk religions and deities, but information in English is lacking, he said.

Travelers often avoid visiting a place if they cannot find clear or accurate information, or if no information is available in their language, Klook said.

However, the situation is improving with the emergence of online booking platforms, it said.

Although many of Taiwan’s tourist sports are accessible only by bus, accurate bus information is still lacking, Taiwanese travel vlogger Aiky said.

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