More than 130,000 Filipinos visited Taiwan in 2015 and its government feel the need to encourage more citizens from its neighboring country to partake in its flourishing tourism network by offering events that will engage them with the island’s rich culture.
A promotional event was mounted on September 22 led by Dr. Gary Song-Huann Lin, Representative of Taiwan (ROC) to the Philippines, who has been so eager to boost the relationship of both countries especially with Taiwan’s “New South Bound Policy.”
“In the past, both countries don’t understand each other. From the perception of Taiwanese, Philippines is very far psychologically. So, this policy tries to discover that, actually, we are in one community. We share similar cultures and also, we should have two-way exchange between people to people, not only in investments, economy, but also in cultural, educational aspects,” the diplomat explained during an interview at the Edsa Shang-ri La Hotel.
The ambassador believes that since the Philippines and Taiwan are in the same economic community, more interaction and exchanges should be done. According to Lin, this policy will encourage more Taiwanese nationals to pay more attention to its Asian neighbors, including the Philippines.
In line with this, the event “2016 Taiwan Tourism Promotion Workshop,” which was initiated by the Taiwan Tourism Bureau, has brought together 29 delegates from travel business operators in Taiwan to promote all the things that would highlight the vibrant Taiwanese life, including its proud culture, indigenous people, food, shopping and the famous Lantern Festival.
Furthermore, the bureau also prepared and distributed various brochures containing travel information from accommodation to transportation that could help travelers explore the gems of Taiwan.
At the tourism workshop, Ambassador Lin shared the things they can secure and offer to fellow Asians when they happen to visit Taiwan, particularly to the Filipinos whose to the island-republic takes less than two hours.
“It only takes 1 hour and 45 minutes from Manila to Taipei. I came from Makati and it took me almost 2 hours just to get here at Edsa Shang-ri La,” Lin humorously stated.
“So with the same time, I can assure you, you will have wonderful time in Taiwan. We have a lot to offer, not only we do share similar culture, we are also like the Philippines, we are a very friendly country,” he said.
Lin proudly expressed the country’s recognition as Taiwan ranks 2nd in the top 10 safest countries in the world in a survey by Australia-based Institute for Economics and Peace.
“In terms of safety, Taiwan is number two in the world for young lady and children to walk (in the street) even at night,” he said.
Aside from this identification, the ambassador cited a feature of their Taitung in Taiwan as it is included in the Top 10 best travel attractions in Asia in 2016 by the well-known travel guide, Lonely Planet.
Taiwan’s aim to boost tourism allowed the ambassador to aspire and desire for more visitors from the Philippines, thus, flights going to Taipei are now accessible.
“Since my arrival here in the country, we have laid foundation to increase the flights from 100 plus to 254 flights per month, because of this the airfare have been reduced into very affordable level.”
He jokingly added, “With P6,000 you can get promotion to Taipei, much cheaper than my flight to Batanes – it took me almost P19,000 .”
When asked what could be the advantage of Taiwan compared to other Asian countries, specifically Hong Kong, which welcomed more Filipinos every year than any other Asian countries, Lin conveyed, “In terms of travel time, we are nearer as compared to HK, airfare to and fro Taiwan is much cheaper, too.”
With a knowing smile, the diplomat also shared that “the best are kept in Taiwan.”
Roster of events
The much-awaited 2016 Taiwan Travel Fair was held on September 23-25 at SM Megamall that gave special offers to those who made bookings for a trip the country.
A special event happens on November 5 and 6 for Asia-Pacific Cultural Day.
“During this day, all Asian countries including the beautiful Philippines, are going to participate. As far as I know, Philippines has already booked 3 booths in the event,” Lin related.
He also mentioned that there will be surprise Philippines celebrities who will take part in the said event. President Dr. Tsai Ing-wen will deliver the opening remarks for this event.
Lin expressed his positive outlook with this line of activities, and he excitedly announced the nation’s plan to release e-visa, “We call it online visa. No need to come to my office physically to apply for visa.”
He believes that through this, the awareness of Taiwan’s tourism resources for Filipinos to consider the beautiful island as a very good destination to travel to will strengthen.
“We are appealing to you, you should go to Taiwan to witness that Taiwan is really a good neighbor. We have a lot to offer for you and for your family,” he ended.