CORONAVIRUS/Local tourism sector readjusting to COVID-19 world

07/05/2020 07:48 PM
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Hotel Royal in Taipei.
Hotel Royal in Taipei.

Taipei, July 5 (CNA)Taiwan's tourism industry is moving to create special attractions for domestic travelers this summer, in a bid to boost business amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has all but halted international travel, according to stakeholders.

While visitor arrivals have plunged due to the pandemic, people in Taiwan are not going abroad either, which opens up opportunities for increased domestic tourism, said Winston Shen (沈方正), CEO of the Hotel Royal Group.

Against that backdrop, travel agencies and other stakeholders in the tourism sector are redesigning their itineraries in innovative ways, catering more to domestic travelers and outdoor activities, he said.

For instance, Hotel Royal Chiaohsi in Yilan has opened three jogging paths nearby, pitching healthy lifestyles, and is encouraging its guests to document and share their adventures on social media, he said.

The hotel has also partnered with an electronics company to set up an outdoor cinema on its camping grounds, which will show movies on a 300-inch screen, Shen said.

A Lion Travel branch in Taipei.
A Lion Travel branch in Taipei.

Meanwhile, tour operator Lion Travel said it will be offering cruises from Keelung Port in northern Taiwan to the island counties of Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu this summer, which is a new initiative.

In a similar move, Taiwan-based Mandarin Airlines will be providing flights between Taipei Songshan Airport and Penghu and Kinmen, using three jets leased from Tigerair Taiwan, which currently operates only on international routes.

Those efforts, coupled with a series of economic stimulus programs launched by the government, could generate a record output value in the domestic tourism sector this summer, according to Huang Cheng-tsung (黃正聰), an associate professor at Providence University's Department of Tourism.

In June, hotel bookings in Taiwan rose by 104 percent from a year earlier, Huang said, adding that most of the reservations were for July and August.

On the downside, road traffic congestion may be a problem this summer, while the government would have to devise ways to prevent large crowds at tourist sites, he said.

According to Transportation Minister Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍), the government's tourism stimulus program, which offers subsidies to travel agencies and individual tourists July 1 to Oct. 31, can support 6.38 million visits to hotels, parks, and sightseeing spots on bus tours and create an output value of NT$23.5 billion (US$796 million) in the industry.

(By Yu Hsiao-han and Lee Hsin-Yin)

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