Touring Taiwan

The country aims to further boost tourism for 2006

By: J.L. Erickson

With tourist arrivals continuing to soar, Taiwan has launched an expansive campaign for the year designed to boost the country’s visitor infrastructure and highlight top attractions in every city and county.

More than 3.4 million visitors nearly 400,000 of them from the United States, the third-largest market for the country after Japan and Hong Kong traveled to Taiwan last year, up 15 percent from the previous year, according to Michael Chang, director of the Taiwan Tourism Bureau’s New York office. The bureau is hoping to nearly double that to more than 5 million visitors by 2008, Chang said.

The country’s “Flagship Tourist Attraction Plan” includes the ongoing advertising campaign with the tagline “Taiwan Touch Your Heart;” a new Web site (; new tour operators Asia Classic Tours, Absolute Asia, Artisans of Leisure, Orient Flexi Pax and Travel Bound; and an “International Year of Student Travel” campaign offering incentives, discounts and deals to young travelers.

In Taipei, tourism officials are showcasing the National Palace Museum, which exhibits 650,000 works of Chinese art and is celebrating its 80th birthday with a $21 million renovation to be completed in June. In July, three special exhibitions of Sung Dynasty masterpieces will be presented. Through September, more than 100 pieces will be on display including rarely-seen ceramics, paintings and calligraphy.

In Kaohsiung, Taiwan’s second largest city, the Love River has been emphasized including the pesdestrian walkways along the river, night markets, concerts and boat rides. Scenic spots Taroko Gorge in Hualien County and Sun Moon Lake in Nantou also will be highlighted.

Amid the increased attention, Taiwan is also developing spa tourism around its hot springs and planning a number of special interest tours and programs with Chinese medicine, cooking schools and language courses.

Meanwhile, international hotels continue to expand in the region with the 180-room Sheraton Yilan resort, set amid hot springs and tea plantations, debuting last year; a five-star InterContinental with 272 rooms and suites is scheduled to open in 2007 in Taiwan’s third largest city, Taichung; and in 2008, a Park Hyatt and a Landis (a local boutique brand) are set to open in Taichung. Another Landis will be built in Ataabu, in Taichung Country, and a Hyatt Regency will open in Hsinchu.

Also in 2008, the bureau said the $87 million Southern Branch Museum will open in Taibo City in central Taiwan. The new museum will showcase more of the treasures in the National Palace Museum’s collection, highlighting pan-Asian works from Indonesia, India, Japan, Thailand and other neighbouring countries.