A city’s vitality is shaped by a friendly tourism environment, thoughtful visitor information services, and unique recreational spots. This year, the Taipei City Government launched its first-ever Muslim-friendly tourist facilities and continued its efforts to create a friendly tourism environment. Visitor Information Centers have been set up around Taipei, creating a far-reaching information network and providing travel-related publications that tourists can take with them. Tourists will find that they are able to travel anywhere in the city very conveniently. In addition, through a series of riverside activities and old city area tours, domestic and foreign travelers alike can experience the ageold charms of this water-loving city.
Creating a Friendly Tourism Environment
There are approximately two billion Muslims worldwide. Among them, some 100 million are regular travelers. However, only 180,000 have visited Taiwan. Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je has thought long and hard about how to showcase the city’s diversity. Ss a result, Taipei is being promoted as a destination for Muslim travelers and is creating a Muslim-friendly tourism environment.
The Taipei City Government has led by example in these efforts, setting up a prayer room on the second floor of the Discovery Center of Taipei (台北探索館). This room is equipped with three prayer rugs and faces west, toward Mecca. The city government also renovated the bathrooms to install spray nozzles or bidet toilets, facilitating pre-prayer ablutions for visiting Muslims.
Yu-yen Chien (簡余晏), commissioner of the Department of Information and Tourism, Taipei City Government, has been one of the main people responsible for the push to make Taipei a Muslimfriendly city. Chien explains that when walking through the Taipei Main Station (台北車站), she would often see a number of Muslims sitting in the lobby. Upon asking, she learned that it was partly due to the convenience of the location and its air-conditioning, but also partly due to the clear direction markers within the station, making it easy for them to determine which direction is west. This served as inspiration for the Department of Information and Tourism, Taipei City Government, to actively promote Taipei to Muslim travelers, including inviting popular
Malaysian actress Yana Samsudin and her director husband to Taipei to shoot a segment for her travel show. In addition, at the largest travel fair in Malaysia, Taipei’s green transportation options and independent travel itineraries were showcased.
In response to the large numbers of Japanese visitors to Taiwan, the Department of Information and Tourism, Taipei City Government, has implemented a series of promotional activities. For example, Japanese author Katakura Yoshifumi and graphic design master tAkorA collaborated to produce the School Trip Handbook, which is colorful and bright and covers practical and interesting topics. It is a complete departure from general tourist guides and allows Japanese students coming to Taiwan for school trips to easily understand Taipei’s features and lifestyle.
Two Online Resources Provide Friendly Tourism Information Services
To serve as the nation’s friendly capital, Taipei City’s Visitor Information Centers provide the most comprehensive and diverse services available. Located throughout the city, they provide a dense service network, assisting visitors in their search for information on dining, accommodation, transportation, attractions, shopping and entertainment. This year, Taipei City’s Visitor Information Centers earned first place in the special municipality category on evaluation of Taiwan Tourism Bureau, Ministry of Transportation and Communications (交通部觀光局).
On top of this, no matter where tourists are in the city, they can connect to the Travel.Taipei Website or download the Fun Travel in Taipei app. They can search for information about popular tourist destinations, as well as dining and shopping options. This year the Travel.Taipei Website has received 4.6 million hits, which is a 23 percent increase compared to the same period last year. In addition, the latest information can be received through the Taipei City Government’s Line account. This year, following content optimization efforts and the organizing of various interesting online Q&A sessions, the number of followers has broken through the 500,000 mark, with a growth rate of more than 65 percent.
Diverse Publications, Comprehensive Marketing of Taipei
To vividly describe Taipei life and to meet the needs of readers, this year many of the city government’s publications have undergone changes. For example, Taipei Pictorial (台北畫刊) was streamlined and given a fresh, new look in April. Bimonthly publication Discover Taipei, published in English and Japanese for international travelers, was renamed Taipei and became quarterly publication in September. It remains an important channel for foreigners to learn about the city. In October, the Colorful Spectacular Taipei (精彩台北) brochure was revamped and renamed Fun Taipei quarterly handbook. Available in four languages, Chinese, English, Japanese and Korean, it presents the latest Taipei travel information.
Creating Memories Along the Rivers and in the Old City
This year, the Department of Information and Tourism, Taipei City Government, together with the Department of Sports (體育局) and the Hydraulic Engineering Office, Public Works Department ( 工務局水利處), organized and expanded the 2015 Taipei Riverside Festival (2015台北河岸音樂季). A series of riverside events such as the Dadaocheng Music Valentine’s Day (大稻埕音樂情人節) were held. Through music, cultural and creative markets, fireworks, river tours and waterborne and splash-related activities, the image and charm of Taipei’s riversides were presented.
In addition to riverside tourism, have you discovered the new faces of the old city areas that have developed over this year? In the past, most visitors to Taipei would simply choose the most well-known destinations, such as Taipei 101 and the National Palace Museum, while older parts of the city, such as Bangka, Beimen (北門) and Dadaocheng fell by the wayside due to lack of historical visibility and promotion, despite their cultural significance. To address this, the Department of Information and Tourism, Taipei City Government, launched a campaign to comprehensively promote “old city areas.” This included guided tours of Bangka on weekends and holidays that show city residents and both domestic and foreign visitors the nostalgic features of the historic areas of Taipei. Even Ko joined one of these tours, helping to promote local traditional destinations.
Taipei’s Changes as Seen From City Hall
Bustling Xinyi District is a must-see area for visitors to Taipei. But did you know that in addition to the department stores and Taipei 101, Taipei City Hall houses a hidden attraction? Located on the right side upon entering the Taipei City Hall from the west entrance is Taiwan’s first city museum – the Discovery Center of Taipei.
The Discovery Center of Taipei is Taiwan’s first successful example of a city government archive transformed into a modern museum. This year, this center has organized “The Taipei Railway Exhibition (台北鐵支路特展)” and “The Return of Teresa Teng Memorial Exhibition ( 鄧麗君文物紀念展)”, which include a variety of displays of cultural objects and interesting interactive digital technology. In December the number of visitors is expected to exceed 300,000, marking an all-time high in the 14-year history of this center.
Overseeing Accommodation Safety and Viewing Choices in Taipei
As of the end of September of this year, the number of international visitors grew by 4.11 percent compared to the same period last year, with more than 7.55 million visitors coming to Taiwan. Due to an increasing demand for quality accommodation, 37 general hotels and tourist hotels opened in Taipei City this year. To safeguard the safety and rights of tourists staying in the city, the Department of Information and Tourism, Taipei City Government, cracked down on 52 illegal hotels this year. At the same time, it encouraged older hotels to develop their unique features and to innovate their operations. After taking up their posts, the new city government team has assisted 17 day-rental studio apartments in obtaining legal accommodation status. Moreover, to provide the public with high quality film entertainment, the Department of Information and Tourism, Taipei City Government, has actively worked to elevate the digitalization of cable television in Taipei City.
From the end of 2014 to the end of 2015, the rate of digitalization rose from 85.9 percent to more than 93 percent. This department has also provided guidance to new entrants into the digital programming industry to help them to smoothly begin broadcasting operations. In terms of movie theaters, this department has promoted the revision of the Motion Picture Act to remove the regulation requiring the showing of government advertisements and has urged movie theaters to increase the proportion of online ticket sales. From creating a more friendly tourism environment to providing thoughtful visitor services and promoting riverside and old city tourism, and in combination with timely publicity and policy support, Taipei is reaching the goal of integrating tourism, recreation and mass media. The result is the development of Taipei into a tourist paradise that forever takes the lead.