After reading this article in today’s Taipei Times, it is clear to me now that whatever efforts the govt do with regards to tourism, is to cater to the masses of Chinese tourists from across the Strait. This brand of tourist is quite the opposite in its needs and expectations than that of a typical western tourist. I never really believed any attempt by the Tourism Board of Taiwan to paint Taiwan as a world-class tourism destination (Fun Taiwan on Travel & Living seems more like a propaganda effort to boost local morale into believing that Taiwan has it all…was it even shown in other countries?), and now even less. If the govt can get away with what’s in place now and get planeloads of mainlanders to spend their money, then they surely won’t be spending much more money on improving the conditions for western tourists.
You are probably right. They dont want to take the major effort needed to promote Taiwan to the Europeans or Americans (North and South) or Ozzie/N.Zealanders.
Chinese are much easier for them and money is money. The Japanese still come in force.
Its biz as usual.
p.s. I think you are right. FUN TAIWAN is likely not even broadcast much outside of perhaps a few target audiences say Singapore, Macau and maybe Japan (and probably CHINA).
I remember when my parents first came over and my dad went apoplectic about the fact that the names of the places on the trains were different to the names on the station platforms. Terribly un-British.
Taiwan’s a nightmare destination to get around if you don’t know what you’re doing. There aren’t even any tourist information centres. A tourism disaster.
As tommy says, no point spending the amount of money needed to attract English speakers when you can get the newly moneyed Chinese without any effort.
Good call. Taiwan will cater to the Asian tourist and their ‘ways’ first.
Makes sense really. Location location location.
Honestly, does anyone really think the island has enough to draw a significant amount of 'Western-type tourists"?
IMO Taiwan is a 2-day tour general tour spot at best. Perhaps if someone has a special interest in something they might stay longer. Temple comparison, medical tourism (which will begin to be hyped very soon), Big museum objects for study…that type of interest may hold tourists a few days longer.
But Thats a small % of the western group.
I run into a lot of western reps here on work and they head to Thailand, Okinawa, PI, Hainan and Viet Nam for their down-time R&R if they’ve been here before. Just not enough to keep 'em here when those other destinations are so close and cheap.
[quote=“tomthorne”] There aren’t even any tourist information centres.
Huh? There are plenty of them, with English info and usually English speaking staff.
There’s a lot of tourism info centres dotted around. Plus they regularly have free tours for foreign visitors. There’s also a new tourist bus promotion that’s going to run from all the train stations around the island.
The main problem is lack of English signs and skills among the staff.
[quote=“cfimages”][quote=“tomthorne”] There aren’t even any tourist information centres.
Huh? There are plenty of them, with English info and usually English speaking staff.[/quote]
My wife’s just informed me she used to work in one. When I first arrived in Taiwan and travelled around the south with the folks couldn’t find one for love or money. I think I must just be a bit daft .
Sometimes I think about encouraging my friends and family to visit Taiwan but, to be honest, it too frequently looks like a dump.
If anyone is really interested in government plans for tourism do a Google search for Project Vanguard. No need to speculate.
Skip the satellite launch history pages by clicking here.
From the article: [quote]For 2010, the goal is 4.5 million international tourists, including those from emerging markets such as mainland China, South Korea, Southeast Asia and Muslims from the Middle East.[/quote]
The goal for mainland Chinese tourists was 900,000.
Southeast Asia? Thais, Vietnamese, Indonesians, Filipinos, and non-Chinese Malaysians are often treated as second class citizens in Taiwan. The author must be referring to overseas Chinese from SE Asia.
Muslims? I’ll never forget going to EZ5 one night a few years ago. One of the singers welcomed a mixed party of Taiwanese and foreigners who were especially supportive of his music. Among the group was a man wearing a turban. A Taiwanese man in the audience thought it would be funny to shout out: “Bin Laden!” About half of the 100 or so people in the room laughed.
Tourists from Western countries who want a nice, relaxing vacation (rather than an adventure) shouldn’t come here. They’ll be jostled, bumped into, honked at, nearly run over, talked about, pointed at, laughed at, shouted at across rooms, etc. I know that people who behave in such a manner often mean no harm, but how would a tourist know that?
I love living in Taiwan, but it is not ready for an influx of tourists unless they are from China, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, or Singapore.
The fact that Taiwan will largely focus on Chinese tourists is fine by me. All the beauty spots off the beaten track will stay nice and untrammeled. TC, I think Taiwan is worth weeks if you want to do some good mountain trekking.
[quote=“Tomas”]Tourists from Western countries who want a nice, relaxing vacation (rather than an adventure) shouldn’t come here. They’ll be jostled, bumped into, honked at, nearly run over, talked about, pointed at, laughed at, shouted at across rooms, etc. I know that people who behave in such a manner often mean no harm, but how would a tourist know that?
I love living in Taiwan, but it is not ready for an influx of tourists unless they are from China, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, or Singapore.[/quote]
Well said, as usual, Tomas.
Too true. Tourist draw cards for Taiwan include (and basically stop at) Taroko, Taipei 101, temples, National Palace Museum, and some aspects of the local food, if you don’t mind sharing your meal with a cockroach or a rat. The rest is just meh that has been hyped up beyond reason simply because there is nothing else for locals to compare it to.
Passing through any of the places on ‘the list’ seems to show a fair amount of success attracting tourists from Singapore and Malaysia, but as said, they all seem to be of Chinese descent. I guess the Malays and Indians either simply aren’t interested in the same things, the Muslims are afraid there will be no Halal food options here, or they fear that without Mandarin they won’t be able to get around or get things done. I’m guessing the Janet series airs just in Asia so it isn’t going to bring any visitors from further afield. In all likelihood, Fun Taiwan was worth every penny the government spent on it.
IMO, this is the real failure of the tourism industry and government. They really seem to be unable to think outside of the constraints of their own cultural preferences for whirlwind tours, karaoke and chicken’s feet. Hence the overwhelming focus on promoting things which are popular to the local market and little to no thought given to ideas of what a non-Han demographic might be interested to experience. As it stands there are probably very few backpackers who would find Taiwan interesting in any way beyond the sub-group that wants to visit the weird off-the-beaten-path places like North Korea and so on, simply because so few go there, or they have bizarre contrasts like Taiwan’s ugly cities, beautiful mountains and insane traffic. The package tour types are not going to find anything here they couldn’t find elsewhere in Asia for less money / hassle and have to pass through a lot less ugliness to get to the resorts. The existing resorts themselves are not sufficiently special or attractively priced to bring guests on their own strengths, and as more PRC tourists arrive that situation will deteriorate rather than improve.
I think that all in all the government is probably following a sensible, if one-sided strategy. Market toward other countries with Han populations while pretending that Taiwan is attractive to a wider market in order to enhance the image and perceived value of Taiwan as a destination. It would take too much of a quantum leap in thinking and investment to really turn Taiwan into a destination attractive to Western tourism and it’s so much easier to market to the demographic they already understand. The gamble is whether or not the Chinese will come in sufficient numbers to spend as much while here as the other nationalities they are going to displace. Make no mistake that PRC tourists are going to make any destination unattractive to anyone else if present in sufficient numbers.
Sadly, I think it would be possible to develop other destinations and activities to market to backpackers which would be totally different and separate from itineraries the Chinese want, but I don’t see the government figuring out how to help with that, or market it.
This is what always bewilders me about tourism in Taiwan. Why are there so few hotels/ hostels/ resorts that are simply good places to chill? To sit about in comfortable chairs while having a few drinks or chatting or reading a book or whatever, while enjoying the good views that this island definitely offers? I’ve stayed at so many places here that potentially could be so great, but the rooms had only frosted glass and the restaurant was inside and the view was blocked by the parking lot. It’s like the traditional U-shaped houses have led to an architecture that always turns inward, where a hotel with a nice view will instead enfold itself around a pool (or more likely a crap “garden” with chipped concrete tables, umbrellas, and faux-railings), back turned to the view itself.
Notification of counter-examples, especially in the northern part of Taiwan, is welcome. Desperately sought, actually. Please? Give us somewhere to go away for a lazy couple of days of doing nothing beyond lazing about in a pleasant place with a nice view?! PLEASE?!
(And Muslims being afraid there’s no halal food available - I’d say that’s a pretty justifiable concern! They’d definitely have to go vegetarian.)
I don’t think the Koran specifically requires vegetables to die by the blade, outdoors, and in as much pain as possible, so they’d probably be okay. Mind you, Taiwanese buddhists do seem to require that vegetarian food is as bland and boring as it can possibly be made, so it’s lose/lose really.
On a similar note, a great many Hindus require that no meat has ever been prepared in the restaurant’s kitchen, even if it’s currently pure vegetarian, which is something very few restaurants here could promise.
The comments expressed here do outline the herculean task of making Taiwan into another Thailand for western tourists. So much so that they are NOT going to even bother. NEver did and never will. Its going to be the usual suspects and thats all (namely the Chinese dispora in addition to China itself as well as Japanese) and That’s all Folks.
Agree with most of whats been said here. I wonder how the global sales of LP/RG Taiwan rank with their other guides. But Taiwan is not alone in its situation. What about Korea? I don’t see many western tourists/backpackers raving about Korea either. And I doubt Korea really cares. I don’t think either of these places are destined to become int’l tourist meccas and there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that.
Yup, I dint mind that all the tourist spots i used to go to were full of fellow Taiwanese with the occasional Japanese or ABC or westerner thrown in the mix.