Meet Taiwan strengthens Singapore connections, but quarantine hampers recovery

The Meet Taiwan event was held at Hilton Singapore Orchard last Thursday

When exactly Taiwan’s borders will reopen for international business events remains the biggest hurdle to attracting inbound groups, travel trade members said at a Meet Taiwan event held last Thursday.

During the event, government representatives reiterated their keenness to attract meetings, conferences and incentives back to Taiwan, and mentioned the incentives – such as site inspection subsidies, help with visa applications, and welcome kits – that groups and event planners can avail.

The Meet Taiwan event was held at Hilton Singapore Orchard last Thursday

Several Taiwanese DMCs, PEOs, and PCOs were also present at the event. They shared about the addition of new conference and exhibition venues like ICC Tainan and Taipei Music Center, as well as recommended several post-event programmes and activities in locations such as Hualian and Taitung to the more than 60 Singapore-based event planners and travel agents present.

However, Taiwan’s current quarantine requirements – three days plus a four-day self-initiated epidemic prevention in the same location – stand in the way of the sector’s recovery.

Millie Sze, outbound manager, Ace Tours & Travel, told TTGmice: “The event was good because it allowed us to catch up with sellers, and learn what is coming up in Taiwan. After two years, it’s good to obtain updates.”

She added that although the information was helpful, buyers like herself were keen to find out more about Taiwan’s reopening plans, so that she could help her corporate clients “start planning” and “do up quotations”.

For Angele Lee, client service director with Event & Marketing Solutions, Taiwan is one of the considered destinations among her clients. Meet Taiwan’s event allowed her to re-establish closer connections.

Meanwhile, Taiwanese travel suppliers also acknowledged that the quarantine requirement was the industry’s biggest hurdle, but believed it was important to be at the event to reconnect with their Singaporean counterparts.

Paul Hsieh, deputy general manager, Edison Travel Service, said: “We know sooner or later that Taiwan will open; it’s just a matter of time. Everyone has been asking about our opening date, but it’s been really difficult. That is why we have been pushing our government to open.”

He further opined: “I think that after the election in November, borders might reopen. I am hopeful. Nobody wants to send an incentive group if they have to deal with quarantine!”

“Taiwan suppliers have been ready to reopen since the start of 2022. They’ve also transformed themselves during the pandemic to run hybrid meetings and virtual tours, as well as create new products.

“I am sure that once the quarantine rules are removed, the travel situation will go back to normal pretty fast. That is why we are here to reconnect and keep in touch,” Han Cheng, representative for Taiwan Tour Co, said.

As of press time, and according to Taiwan News, Taiwan’s head of the Central Epidemic Command Center has indicated that the destination is eyeing late September as the likely timeframe to ease its border restrictions.

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