New grants and incentives are being dished out to MICE planners to get their nod towards Taiwan as a destination of choice, writes Paige Lee Pei Qi
Believing that event planners could use some help to make their destination of choice more affordable, Taiwan has launched a new series of support this year that includes complimentary cultural performances and souvenirs, as well as event planning assistance.
First-time incentive groups with at least 150 delegates will get to enjoy a free gala dinner, while financial grants ranging from NT$30,000 (US$1,000) to NT$200,000 are also dished out.
Aimed at international enterprises and associations, these subventions will be available through 2016.
Thomas Tsou, secretary general, Taiwan Convention & Exhibition Association, an organisation whose mission is to promote Taiwan‚Äôs economic development, establish a cohesive MICE industry and assist the government in setting exhibition policies, said: ‚ÄúThese subsidies will be a good motivation for companies to choose Taiwan because they are always looking for ways to control their budget.‚ÄĚ
Tsou is quick to add, however, that Taiwan is ‚Äúalready an affordable destination‚ÄĚ for business events.
‚ÄúOur ultimate goal is to make Taiwan as attractive as possible,‚ÄĚ he explained.
And it seems that Taiwan is on the right track with its tourism objectives. The destination crossed the eight million mark in arrivals last year, up from 7.3 million in 2012. Business travel footfalls have risen too, from 890,000 in 2012 to 930,000 in 2013. Taiwan Tourism Bureau expects arrivals to hit nine million by the end of 2014.
With business travellers spending approximately 10 per cent more than leisure travellers, Tsou believes that more must be done to develop Taiwan‚Äôs MICE industry.
He cited Taiwan‚Äôs infrastructure and high service standards as the destination‚Äôs strengths.
In Taipei, hardware is constantly improving. Shangri-La‚Äôs Far Eastern Plaza Hotel, Taipei splashed NT$1.5 billion (US$50 million) on an extensive refurbishing project; Westin Taipei gave its room and lobby facilities a facelift; Grand Hyatt Taipei recently completed phase one of a landmark renovation.
New in the city is the Mandarin Oriental Taipei, lauded as one of the most upscale hotel in Taiwan. The 303-key hotel features a versatile range of event spaces including the Grand Ballroom, a 960m2 space for up to 1,200 guests.
Besides the availability of MICE-friendly hardware, Jason Yeh, CEO of TaiwanLook DMC, said Taiwan‚Äôs ‚Äúremarkable cultural heritage and many resplendent natural sites‚ÄĚ can support purpose-built group programmes.
He added that popular incentive activities include city treasure hunts where one of the ‚Äėtreasures‚Äô to be found are Taiwan‚Äôs widely celebrated street food in the night markets.
And eating is just what 100 delegates of My Tours Indonesia‚Äôs first incentive group to Taiwan will be doing when they descend on Taipei at the end of this year.
The agency‚Äôs director, Christovel Panggabean, said: ‚ÄúThere are two things Indonesians love the most ‚Äď food and shopping. We have heard so much about how Taiwan has some of the best street food and it is time for us to taste it for ourselves.‚ÄĚ
Also playing a part in boosting Taiwan‚Äôs branding is the Super Team in Asia competition. Launched in August by Meet Taiwan and Taiwan External Trade Development Council, the competition called on participants from companies in Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia to create their dream incentive itineraries in Taiwan and act as ambassadors for the destination in their own countries.
Commenting on the initiative, TW MICE Event & DMC‚Äôs sales director, Stacy Yang, said: ‚ÄúIt is good to have more of these (activities) to raise awareness of Taiwan because (of strong competition from) neighbouring destinations.‚ÄĚ
Three days in Taipei
Start your first day in Taipei with a trip to the top of its tallest building, the Taipei 101. The world‚Äôs fastest elevator whisks you to the 89th floor where an audio tour points out some of the city‚Äôs major landmarks through panoramic windows. Share your memories with loved ones back home by mailing a postcard from one of the highest mailboxes in the world.
Then, head down to Taipei 101 mall for a little shopping, before regrouping and moving on to the nearby Chiang Kai Shek Memorial for a picnic lunch in the park.
Now that you‚Äôve had an survey of the city, get a sampling of Taiwanese cuisine with a visit to the Shilin Night Market for a dinner of inexpensive and delicious street food.
Taiwan has a very rich history, one you can explore today with a morning visit to the National Palace Museum. Considered one of the best museums in the world, the National Museum displays a collection of art, artefacts and relics spanning 8,000 years.
After lunch, spend the afternoon exploring one of Taipei‚Äôs many temples. Longshan, the most popular, is a Taoist temple dating back to the early 18th century during the Qing Dynasty.
As evening approaches, catch a cab to the Elephant Mountain trailhead for a short hike to watch the sun set behind the iconic Taipei 101.
Get an early start for a day of hiking in Yangmingshan National Park, where you‚Äôll find high peaks, rolling hills, waterfalls and mountaintop meadows waiting to be explored.
In the evening, relax those tired muscles with a soak in the famous Beitou Hot Springs. If you are interested in the long history of thermal spas in Taipei, make sure to visit the Beitou Hot Springs Museum before heading home.
Itinerary by Viator
Need to Know
Explore a tasteful, old side ¬†of modern Taipei
The 200-year-old Jinshan Old Street, located in New Taipei City, is loved for its street food and casual local eateries, medley of traditional temples such as Ci Hu Temple and Kuan An Temple, and hot springs. Jinshan Old Street is busiest on weekends when locals and tourists alike flock in to feast on cheap local delicacies and pick up dried marine produce.
In the mood for arts
Housed in a once disused dockside warehouse that has since been transformed into a hub for design and contemporary art, Pier-2 Art Center in Kaohsiung City plays host to numerous contemporary art and design exhibitions, music festivals and pop-up shows.
The visually engaging exhibits and sprawling grounds make Pier-2 Art Center an increasingly popular attraction among locals and tourists alike.
Spice up your palate
Balle Balle Indian Restaurant & Bar is one of the relatively new Indian restaurants to emerge in Taipei. Located close to Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall MRT station, the restaurant specialises in Punjabi cuisine and offers both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. Reservations are recommended, as it can pack out quickly during meal times. Balle Balle can also be booked for private parties.
Write to email@example.com for more information.
All-female incentive groups may fly into Taipei in style this December when Taiwanese airline EVA Air rolls out nine Hello Kitty-themed chartered flights from Singapore to the Taiwanese capital.
Passengers on these flights will enjoy the full Hello Kitty treatment, from being given a Hello Kitty boarding pass and baggage stickers upon check-in, to Hello Kitty pillows and Hello Kitty-shaped food during the inflight meal service.
Limited edition Hello Kitty duty-free products will be available onboard too.
Get around in a green, healthy manner
Business event delegates who are extending their stay in Taipei may want to take advantage of the city‚Äôs new Travel by BMW campaign which encourages tourists to get around by bus, bicycle and metro or on foot.
The campaign highlights Taipei‚Äôs tourist-friendly infrastructure including 12 new metro lines, 4,000 public buses and more than 190 YouBike rental spots. The latter allows visitors to rent a bicycle from any rental spot closest to their starting point and return it to any station upon arrival at their destination.