Taiwan Strait Tourism Association opens office in Beijing
The Taiwan Strait Tourism Association (TSTA) opened its Beijing office with an inaugural ceremony on May 4. Janice Lai, head of the TSTA and director-general of the Tourism Bureau under the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, noted that the office represented a major step in resuming tourism exchanges after 60 years of separate rule across the strait. The establishment of the Beijing office, says Lai, will mark a new milestone leading to closer bilateral tourism exchanges.
According to the Tourism Bureau, the TSTA’s office in Beijing will be charged with three major tasks:
1. Expanding distribution channels and improving the packaging of quality tourism products:
The office will be in charge of expanding channels with relevant agencies, private companies, mainstream media organizations and Taiwanese business associations on the mainland. The office will also research market demand in mainland China and cooperate with local travel agencies to develop competitive, quality tourism products that meet the market’s needs.
2. Strengthening publicity and promotion:
Through seminars and travel trade shows, the Beijing office will promote Taiwan’s finest attractions to mainland residents and spur cross-strait travel. And by offering training to tourism operators, the office will equip them with marketing and sales know-how, and thereby improve the promotion quality of Taiwan’s tourism products and services.
In terms of publicity plans, the office will invite mainland China’s travel agencies and national-level media organizations to visit Taiwan in order to provide mainland residents with wide-ranging travel information on Taiwan and increase their interest in visiting the island.
3. Introducing theme packages by regions:
To ensure high travel quality while helping tourists experience the beauty of Taiwan and the friendliness and hospitality of its people, the office will push for business cooperation between two sides to design different tour packages for northern, central, southern and eastern Taiwan. Attractive themes such as health care travel, cultural experiences, and hot springs and fine cuisine will be included to improve the depth and enjoyment of the travel experience.
Separately, to promote cross-strait tourism, the Taipei Association of Travel Agents held a Taiwan-mainland exhibition as part of its four-day Taipei Tourism Exposition at the Taipei World Trade Center starting April 30. Delegations of travel agents from 18 mainland Chinese provinces and cities, including Fujian, Guangdong and Zhejiang, set up nearly 100 display booths at the expo. In his address to the opening ceremony, Wu Chao-yen, deputy director-general of the Tourism Bureau, said that cross-strait tourism exchange has gone from non-existent to its current state, from unidirectional to bidirectional, gradually picking up momentum and opening up step by step to achieve excellent progress. While moving steadily in a healthy and positive direction, the tourism industries on both sides are working toward enhancing travel quality.
On June 13, 2008, Taiwan’s Straits Exchange Foundation and the mainland’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait signed the Cross-Strait Agreement Concerning Mainland Tourists Traveling to Taiwan. Then, on July 4, the Cross-Strait Tourism Exchange Association (CSTEA) led its first group—of 644 mainland travelers—to Taiwan, thus opening a new era in cross-strait tourism exchange. Group tourists from mainland China have since increased from an initial daily average of 200-300 visitors to 3,200 in the first four months of 2010, bringing the total of mainland travelers to Taiwan to over 1.6 million since these tourism exchanges were liberalized.
Lai said that as the number of mainland tourists increased, efforts have been made to enhance services to both the industry and travelers. On October 20, 2009, the bureau—under the name of the TSTA—and the mainland’s CSTEA applied to set up reciprocal offices on opposite sides of the strait. The formal establishment of the TSTA’s Beijing office is aimed at providing a more friendly service platform from a closer proximity while emphasizing both quantity and quality in developing the mainland tourism market for Taiwan.