Taiwan flexes muscle for more Asian FITs

ROBUST growth in the number of FIT travellers visiting Taiwan has prompted sellers at the Taipei International Travel Fair (ITF) to refine their products.

In 2011, Taiwan opened the floodgates to visitors from China with new FIT visas (TTG Asia e-Daily, June 27, 2011). Statistics show that 350,000 Chinese came to Taiwan from January to September, up 210.8 per cent year-on-year.

ITF chairman, CT Su, said: “The quota’s ceiling has increased from 1,000, when the scheme started, to the current 2,000. Hopefully, it will be lifted to 3,000 in the near future as the total number of approved Chinese cities has mushroomed to 26 (from three at the beginning).

“Apart from China, markets like South Korea, Japan and Malaysia also performed well due to the rise of LCCs. That’s why this year’s ITF forum is looking into FIT trends and how best Taiwan can cater for this segment.”

Agreeing, Lion Travel’s vice president of special interest travel, Andy Yu, said: “Taiwan is ready to tap the FIT market as various local tourism bureaus have channelled more resources and promotions into this area. For instance, the taxi association has rolled out rental services for tourists.”

Describing China’s FIT market as huge, Yu shared: “We gave up low-end Chinese shopping tours early this year and switched to high-end corporate and FIT tours. It turned out to be a successful move as our income tripled.”

There have been other transport developments this year, such as an enhanced version of the joint rail pass offered by Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR) and Taiwan Railways. THSR’s assistant product manager, Anthia Wong, said a five-day pass is now sold, costing NT$2,800 (US$95) for standard class and NT$3,600 for express class.

“Travellers may enjoy THSR rides over two days and will have more flexibility when taking Taiwan Railways’ trains. So far, we’ve received highest booking traffic from Japan followed by Hong Kong.”

Taiwan Tourism Bureau this summer added 11 new routes to its Taiwan Tour Bus operations, such as a cultural tour to Hsinchu visiting local museums. There are now 64 itineraries.

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