Thursday, July 3, 2008

Westerners get in the tourist game (Taiwan Business Topics)

Taiwan's tourist industry is well developed. But in certain niches, foreigners may be better placed to provide the services that visitors want.

Western backpackers in Thailand often stay in guesthouses or join adventure tours run by Europeans, North Americans, or Australians. There are hundreds of such entrepreneurs in Southeast Asia; they succeed because they know what their clients expect, and they also have the local knowledge and contacts - very often through a local spouse - to provide what customers want.

Similar opportunities seem to exist in Taiwan. The country may not yet be a tourist destination of international significance, but the number of foreign visitors is growing: 3.71 million of them entered Taiwan in 2007, compared with 3.38 million in 2005.

The professionals in Taiwan's tourism industry have plenty of experience handling business visitors. Groups taking all-inclusive package tours are common. However, many Westerners - plus an increasing number of young Japanese and Koreans - prefer to organize their own vacations.

Local railways and some bus companies have made great progress in making their services bilingual. But independent travelers who do not speak Chinese still have a difficult time. For those hoping to hike in the national parks, the permit application process is complex. Also, variations in romanization sometimes confound visitors who depend on English-language maps. A few entrepreneurs are trying to meet the demand among such visitors for help with bookings and for tailor-made itineraries.

If there is a pioneer in this field, it is Jean-Marc Compain, the founder of FreshTreks...

To read the rest of this article, go here. Here's a link to a similar article I did last year.

No comments: