Taiwan Tourism’s Moving On Up

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SITA World Travel, for example, offers two programs to Taiwan under its Independent Traveler program. The first, Taiwan Highlights, offers a 7-night island-wide tour of the country with private car airport pickup and visits to all of Taiwan’s major attractions—from Sun Moon Lake and Taroko Gorge, to the historical town of Tainan and visits to various temples and breathtaking nature attractions, just to name a few spots. The land-only tour starts at just $1,030, an affordable addendum to a more extensive Asian itinerary. The second is a shorter 3-night add-on—Window to Taipei—that includes a full-day city tour and another day for independent pursuits and that’s priced from just $330. SITA’s west coast sales manager, Ralf Korbner, in fact, traveled to Taiwan last month to receive an award for the tour company’s efforts to promote Taiwan.

Orient Flexi-Pax also has three short add-on programs—a 2-night Taipei package that includes a full-day city tour program with a visit to the famous National Palace Museum with the world’s largest collection of Chinese artifacts and plenty of time for handicrafts shopping. There are also two other options—a 1-night excursion to Sun Moon Lake that includes a visit to an aboriginal village and the majestic Wen-Wu Temple; or, a 1-night visit to Taroko Gorge and the Shrine of the Eternal Spring, the Swallow Grotto, the Tunnel of the Nine Turns and the Caves of the Eight Immortals. Those programs start at $330 pp or, you can put all three together.

Chang says Taiwan is an excellent destination for tour operators to package because of its location in relation to many of the most popular Asian destinations. “Our geography, our location is perfect—from Taiwan to Shanghai it’s about two hours, to Beijing, about 2.5 hours, to Hong Kong one hour and 50 minutes, and to Tokyo, about two hours and 15 minutes. So I would say that Taiwan is the international hub of Asia. Now today, we have two international airlines based in Taiwan—Eva Air and China Airlines—making it very convenient to fly to Taiwan from anywhere all over the world. They can fly to Taipei first and then transit on to anywhere in Asia.”

Chang says they’re also talking about some new programs. “In the past, the most popular Visit Taiwan programs were the general tourism programs like the island-wide tours and some would visit Taipei, our capital city, and natural wonders like the Taroko Gorge. For this year, we’re trying to develop new programs for the visitors. We’re working together with tour operators to do some culinary travel. Taiwanese food is spectacular. So we’re looking for some special local Taiwan food to include in the trip.”

At the same time, he says, “We’re going to develop cultural tours. People will find that Taiwan is really a very diverse cultural destination compared to other places. On such a tiny island, you’ll find so many different kinds of cultures. We have aboriginal people who have preserved their traditional culture and it’s worth discovering.”

Chang says they’re also working with people to develop special interest tours, like biking Taiwan. “We’re working with one tour operator to develop that. There will also be special Trekking Taiwan programs. Two thirds of Taiwan is covered by mountains and we have over 300 peaks over 10,000 ft., which is a lot for such a small island, so that will make for some fantastic trekking tours,” he says. “And the last one is a Vegetable Tour. Taiwan is the island of vegetables. We’re also working on festival tours. There’s the Lantern Festival, the Dragon Festival and then the Ghost Festival—that one is going to be very fascinating—and also the Culinary Festival in August.”

So if you’re looking to put together a multiple destination itinerary for an Asian-bound client, or a stand-alone product that offers a diverse collection of attractions for an unforgettable vacation experience, there’s plenty of new Taiwan programs for you to choose from.