The global tourism sector is looking forward to normally reopening tourism, but it is difficult to be sure about the time. Despite the unpredictability of the situation, Taiwan has taken proactive steps to maintain its destination image as well as to get ready for the time of reopening instead of waiting for travel to completely resume.
Destination Review had a conversation with Mr. Derek Chou, Director of Tourism Department, Taiwan Tourism Bureau Ho Chi Minh Office about the plans that Taiwan is implementing to welcome visitors as soon as travel resumes.
On 1 April, Taiwan officially launched a travel bubble with Palau. Under the travel bubble agreement, both of us have to comply with safety regulations including tourists must undergo PCR test at the airport and get a negative result; tourists must enter and leave with their group and are not allowed to separate during the trip; transportation must be disinfected every day; designated hotels and restaurants serve each group separately and keep them avoid contacting with each other; itineraries should avoid crowded destinations.
In addition, Taiwan has also shortened the quarantine period to 5 days for visitors from low-risk countries, but this policy only applied for business travel. Vietnam was categorized as one of the low-risk countries on the list; however, it is now temporarily removed from the list of low-risk countries because the epidemic in Vietnam has been more complicated recently.
Recently, the epidemic situation in Taiwan also has been complicated. Therefore, we are setting curbing the outbreak in the domestic at the top priority, besides rolling out vaccination programs. In addition, Taiwan also evaluates the epidemic prevention of other countries to discuss appropriate travel bubble agreements. The principle of implementing the travel bubble is to ensure the epidemic not to be worse in one another country.
Currently, Taiwan has not fully reopened to tourism yet but we have been coming up with new experiences, new tourist attractions for tourists to explore post-pandemic while controlling the epidemic.
The plan for new experiences follows two themes “Old Itinerary – New Experiences” and “New Normal – New Opportunities”, with famous tourist attractions in Taiwan adding new experiences for tourists to choose from.
For example, Yeliu, Alishan and Lotus Lake are three must-visit tourist attractions in Taiwan. Previously, these three destinations were only suitable for visiting during the day, but now each of them has new night experiences. In Yeliu, there will be performances using light effects and music, giving the scene here a different look at night. With Alishan, in addition to the beautiful mountain scenery and tea culture, tourists can take guided tours there to watch fireflies at night. Tourists usually visit Lotus Lake to see the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas, and now they have more options, one of which is visiting handicraft villages here. This is how we offer new experiences at old tourist attractions.
Besides, the travel demand and habits will change a lot post-pandemic. Tourists tend to travel in small groups, visit less-crowded locations, or choose more private experiences. Therefore, we also focus on bringing unique experiences tailored to these needs. For example, Taiwan takes advantage of the railway or scenic cycling routes that connect many tourist destinations from north to south to create interesting yet private experiences. Taiwan also has small islands around the main island that can become attractive tourist attractions. Therefore, we are also considering organizing excursions connecting these islands for tourists.
Before the pandemic, Taiwan has implemented Guanhong visa measures, making it simpler for Vietnamese tourists to apply for a visa. With the Guanhong visa, Vietnamese tourists do not need to prove their finances and prove their employment when joining a tour from designated tourism companies in groups of more than 5 people. Therefore, the preparation of documents and procedures to visit Taiwan is simpler and tourists will not have to pay visa fees. For independent tourists, they can apply for an e-visa without going directly to the Taipei Economic & Cultural Office if they have residence cards or visas of developed countries such as the US, Europe, Korea, Japan, etc.
The Taiwan Tourism Bureau also opened a representative office in Ho Chi Minh City in 2019 to easily connect and support tourism companies as well as tourists in Vietnam, providing them an accurate information source and recommending diversely suitable attractions and itineraries. In 2019, Taiwan introduced the Taiwan Quality Tour logo to tourism companies in Vietnam to improve the quality of group tours to Taiwan, and to enhance the image of Taiwan in Vietnamese tourists’ perceptions. For independent tourists, Taiwan is planning to prepare brochures, travel guidebooks at attractions and hotels in Vietnamese language for Vietnamese travelers’ reference.
Although all travel between Taiwan and Vietnam has to be temporarily paused due to the pandemic, Taiwan has not stopped interacting with tourists as well as tourism companies to prepare for welcoming tourists as soon as possible.
At the end of April, the Taiwan Tourism Bureau Ho Chi Minh Office held a seminar with Vietnam Travel Agencies, connecting with Taiwan Travel Agencies, introducing new travel experiences in Taiwan, and updating our plans to welcome Vietnamese tourists back to Taiwan. We also support companies with information, encouraging them to change itineraries and add new experiences to attract a more diverse audience of travelers. We received good response from the Vietnamese market as the number of tourism companies participating in the seminar was quite large, proving that Taiwan is still an attractive destination for the Vietnamese. We also plan to cooperate with major tourism companies to bring new high-quality products and promote tourism exchanges between Vietnam and Taiwan after the pandemic.
In addition, on social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, our representative office has cooperated with Vietnamese tourism companies to organize mini-games to keep audiences’ engagement and remind them of the image of Taiwan through promotional activities. Attractions in Taiwan also held small presentations via Zoom or YouTube and shared them on online media channels to maintain the image with audiences.
In the current complicated context of the pandemic, the best way to prepare and promote the destination is to well control the epidemic situation in Taiwan so that tourists can visit with peace of mind, as well as to maintain our image to motivate them to pay a visit in the future. The government as well as the people of Taiwan have been working together to curb the epidemic. We hope that with our efforts and achievements, Taiwan will be prioritized among other international destinations once the pandemic is over.
In addition, Taiwan will also gradually discuss with countries that have managed the pandemic well to safely open tourism with effective quarantine measures. We will also continue to follow two themes “Old Itinerary – New Experiences” and “New Normal – New Opportunities” to offer all visitors new ideas and travel experiences.
Vietnam and Taiwan are important tourism markets to one another. Last year, we both controlled the epidemic well; therefore, Taiwan also looks forward to resuming tourism exchanges with Vietnam as soon as possible, continuing to introduce high-quality tourism products to Vietnamese tourists.