Tourism in Taiwan must now contend with such trends as globalization, the rise of digital technologies, and a shift toward localization. Businesses also face such challenges as changes in tourism source markets, intense regional competition, and the need for key transformations within the industry. In response to these headwinds, the Executive Yuan in January 2018 approved Tourism 2020, a four-year (2017-2020) plan for the sustainable development of tourism in Taiwan.
The plan seeks to establish Taiwan as a premier destination in Asia with a reputation for warm hospitality, smart technologies and authentic experiences by expanding and diversifying markets, invigorating domestic tourism, guiding industry transformation, developing "smart" tourism, and promoting experiential travel. Targets for 2019 include 11.5 million trips by international travelers, 190 million trips by domestic travelers, and industry revenues totaling NT$821.5 billion (US$26.6 billion).
Five main strategies for 2019
◆ Expand and diversify markets
Increased promotional efforts will target visitors from 10 countries; namely, Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam. Conditional visa-free privileges and the range of countries eligible will be expanded, and visa application procedures simplified. Outreach to nations covered by the New Southbound Policy will be accelerated. Finally, regional cooperation among cruise lines will be encouraged, and high-potential source markets—such as Muslim nations—will be developed.
◆ Invigorate domestic tourism
Through such initiatives as tourism subsidies, the Citizen's Travel Card program, and events on the Taiwan Tourism Calendar with both international and national appeal, authorities will strengthen the foundations of domestic tourism and achieve balanced regional development.
◆ Guide industry transformation
Measures include promoting travel sector branding, researching necessary regulatory relaxation and adjustments in keeping with international standards, exploring the revision of the hotel star rating system, and raising the quality of service in the industry. The government will also advise hotels and other providers of accommodations on improving quality control mechanisms, and encourage them to join international booking and reservation systems.
◆ Develop smart tourism
Officials will build a database to make use of "big data" for tourism in Taiwan, as well as promote the iTravel mobile service platform for itinerary planning. To aid independent travelers, the Taiwan Tourist Shuttle and Taiwan Tour Bus systems, together with local Information Stations, will be refined. Widely distributed i-center help desks will provide service with a smile. Upgrades are also planned for the Taiwan Pass travel benefits card.
◆ Promote experiential tourism
2019 has been designated Small Town Ramble Year, which will see a series of unique events organized in 30 select villages, 10 traditional Hakka communities and four "slow towns," as designated by the influential Cittaslow International organization. Efforts will also target tourism in indigenous villages and accessibility for persons with disabilities, with the goal of creating a friendly environment full of moving experiences focused on immersive travel and appreciation for local lifestyles.