Never resting on its laurels

While Meet Taiwan has generated good revenue, the trade recommends new products to be pushed to keep the Chinese coming, writes Prudence Lui

The five-year MICE promotion programme led by Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) and Ministry of Economic Affairs, Meet Taiwan, will be drawing to a close come 2016. The programme has proven to be successful, given the new high of US$1.2 billion in revenue derived from MICE activities in 2014.

Taiwan registered about 544 MICE events last year, up 21 per cent year-on-year. Asia continued to be the powerhouse for Taiwan’s international meeting and corporate incentive business – out of the nearly 190,000 international MICE travellers who visited Taiwan, about 150,000 were from Asia, and mostly from Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Australia. As such, two sales missions to Asia have been planned for this June (Busan, Osaka and Fukuoka) and July (Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok), comprising seminars and meetings with potential buyers.

A TAITRA spokesman said: “As with last year, Asia-Pacific and the exhibitions segment remain our targets, but we are focusing more on Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Australia this time, in conjunction with the launch of our Super Team in Asia – Season 2 programme in May. We added Australia this year because compared with American and European tourists, Taiwan is much more accessible to Australian tourists.

“Moreover, around 10,000 Australian business travellers visited Taiwan last year, way fewer than the other five Asian countries. Therefore, we want to make Taiwan more attractive as an incentive destination for Australians.”

Super Team in Asia inaugurated last year and invited enterprises in Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia to form teams to plan their ideal trip to Taiwan online and campaign for votes on community websites. Teams most popular on the Internet thereafter entered the next leg of the competition held for five days in Taiwan. Singapore’s Seng Hua Hng Foodstuff emerged the winner and took away an incentive travel package worth US$50,000.

Meet Taiwan has also launched two other programmes aimed at drawing overseas MICE. The Taiwan Value Go highlights Taiwan’s vibrant and diverse culture by presenting nine activities across Taiwan, such as Taiwan International Orchid Exhibition, Ilan Green Expo, Sanyi International Woodcarving Festival and Fulong International Sand Sculpture Art Festival. Overseas MICE visitors can include these international exhibitions around Taiwan in their itineraries.

The Taiwan Meeting and Incentive Rewards Program meanwhile offers subsidies to overseas event organisers and Taiwanese travel consultants which arrange groups to Taiwan for corporate meetings and incentive travel. Groups of more than 20 people from foreign companies staying two consecutive nights in Taiwan for a meeting, training, company visit, awards ceremony, teambuilding activity, etc are eligible to apply. Whether they are for an inspection package or group package, subsidies range from NT$10,000 (US$328) to NT$100,000, depending on group size.

However, in addition to dangling new perks, overseas DMC Qingdao Jiahua Wenhua International Travel deputy general manager, Yu Zhong, pointed out the importance for the authorities to gain repeat traffic with new products. He said: “We have been in this business for six years but the traffic volume now can’t be compared with the early days when the destination first opened its gates to Chinese residents.

“A lot of Chinese may have already visited Taiwan…In fact, most of the itineraries are standard, round-the-island programmes. In order to excite the clientele and drive repeat traffic, we are exploring new tour products, such as Penghu and Jinmen.”

Local event organiser Asia Concentrate Corporation manager, Pairry Chiang, concurred: “From our conversations with Chinese travel agencies, we found that most Chinese tourists are tired of the same attractions, such as Sun-Moon Lake and Ali Mountain. But Taiwan has more to offer, and our culture is the highlight!”

The company stays competitive by rolling out new ideas, such as a coffee tour, to woo incentive groups. With a choice of economical and luxury packages to suit different budgets, this five-day tour guided by a barista takes participants into the local coffee culture and production through visits to coffee farms, factories and special cafes in Tainan.

Chiang shared: “Everyone was eager to know more about the coffee tour. Even local travel agencies have asked me to work with them on this tour.

“We believe most travellers, especially business travellers, are looking for unique experiences they can share back home. This kind of tour makes Taiwan feel like a theme park, where you can discover more than you have expected.”

Ideas – Two-day trip in scenic Yilan

Day 1

Morning: Set off by coach from Taipei to Yilan on the east coast of Taiwan. The county is blessed with natural beauty and a rich culture. Visit the reputed LuoDong Mingshen Market, the biggest marketplace in the county for daily necessities, and the best spot to experience local life. Then head to Luogong Forest Showroom to trace the history of the local logging industry.

Afternoon: Enjoy a traditional Yilan lunch at Eland-Chun Restaurant. After lunch, descend to Meihua Lake (Plum Blossom Lake) for a 30-minute bike ride. Then proceed to the National Center for Traditional Arts, where visitors can enjoy local arts and performances, handicrafts and snacks.

Evening: Return to the hotel for a buffet dinner.

Day 2

Jiufen Village Picture by nicholashan/

Morning: After breakfast, set off to Wufongchi Scenic Area to explore the natural beauty of the Yilan region. The Wufongchi waterfall spans three levels and is connected by a 100m walking path. Ascend to the highest level which features the longest waterfall (50m) and is a popular cooling spot.

Afternoon: Head to W Nan Restaurant for a palatable menu created by the chef using local seasonal ingredients. Then take a leisurely walk around the neighouring towns such as Jiufen Village and Dansui Old Street to sample local street food, sightsee and shop.

– Itinerary provided by Willy Event Consultants 

Need to know

New rooms at Regent Taipei Taiwan

Regent Taipei upgraded its guestrooms on the fifth and sixth floors and kicked off its Regent Balcony Premier last December. The rooms all feature a 56m2 space which can accommodate up to four persons along with an extended outdoor balcony area. An exclusive Regent Balcony Lounge has been specially designed to accommodate guests staying on these two floors, offering business services and refreshments.

V Air offers connection to Macau

Taiwan-based V Air inaugurated its Taipei-Macau route on April 10 with round-trip services every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Flight ZV156 departs from Macau at 22:15 and arrives in Taipei at 00:45 the following morning. Flight ZV155 departs from Taipei at 20:10 and arrive in Macau at 21:55.

The route’s frequency is expected to be increased to daily service in June, after an Airbus A320 aircraft joins the fleet. The budget airline also targets to expand its network to Japanese and Korean destinations by end-2015.

Get to know comprehensive Taiwan tea culture

Asia Concentrate Corporation’s new tea tour is ideal for incentive groups interested in a comprehensive Taiwan tea culture experience.

The five-day tour covers Taipei, Taichung and Nantou, where clients visit tea plantations and experience the tea-picking, rolling and drying processes. A tea producer will accompany the group to share his knowledge of tea products and modern tea culture, such as Taiwan’s renowned pearl milk tea.

The package costs US$1,934 per pax including five-star accommodation and meals.

Ambassador Hotels presents a new brand in amba

The Ambassador Hotels has launched amba, a new brand which caters for a new generation of travellers.

Last April, the 90-key amba Taipei Zhongshan opened for business and is only a five-minute walk to Taipei Metro Zhongshan Station. The rooms ranging from 20m2 Smart rooms to 31m2 Balcony rooms are all equipped with complimentary Wi-Fi, a 42-inch TV, a wireless Bluetooth speaker as well as Taiwanese tea and fresh coffee from an automatic coffee maker. The Achoi restaurant on level one can be booked for small meetings and private events, hosting up to 80 guests for cocktails or 50 guests seated.

The group’s third hotel, amba Taipei Songshan, and the first amba resort, amba Kenting, are both scheduled to open in 2016.

Taiwan to welcome first Marriott in July

The 320-room Taipei Marriott will soft-open on July 3, followed by a grand opening in Q4.

Situated near Neihu Technology Park in a mixed-use complex housing a convention centre, a shopping mall and luxury apartments, the property features five restaurants and a bar as well as 3,000m2 of space for a maximum of 2,000 guests.

The 1,260m2 Grand Ballroom on the 21st level is the largest pillarless ballroom in Taiwan’s International-hotel category, while an outdoor venue and a chapel are located on the eighth level rooftop garden.

The hotel will start receiving banquet guests in August.

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