Taiwan wants to offer money to foreign tourists visiting the island

Taiwan plans to offer money to 500,000 foreign tourists visiting the island as a way to boost international tourism.

Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, Taiwan
Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, Taiwan | © Kaizer Bienes

In a plan shared this week by the ministry of Transportation and Communications, Taiwan wants to boost its tourism industry by offering money to foreign travelers.

According to the government, the plan will offer an incentive of 5,000 New Taiwan dollars (164 U.S. dollars) to every 500,000 foreign tourists visiting Taiwan to spend on the island, or 2.5 billion New Taiwan dollars ($82 million) in total. A subsidy from 10,000 to 20,000 New Taiwan dollars ($329 to $658) will also be granted to travel agencies for about 90,000 tour groups coming in.

The cash allowance would be delivered digitally and could be spent across the country, including for accommodation, according to the minister of Transportation. However, no starting date for the plan has been announced, yet.

Taiwan will focus on attracting international travelers from four main markets, the first one being Japan and South Korea. Then Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Macau, and Europe and the Americas make up the three other target markets.

The plan echoes the one shared by Hong Kong officials in early February when authorities announced the “Hello Hong Kong” campaign offering 500,000 international flight tickets and vouchers to spend locally with the hope to bring 1.5 million visitors to the city.

Taiwan has the ambition to welcome 6 million tourists in 2023, 12 million visitors in 2024, and aims for 10 million visitors by 2025, according to Prime Minister Chen Chien-jen.

In 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic, Taiwan welcomed a record number of 11.9 million tourists but only 900,00 visitors in 2022, according to the Taiwan Tourism Bureau’s statistics, a majority of them after they reopened the border on October 2022.

The island lifted its entry restrictions in October 2022, after one of the longest border closures in the world. But independent travelers, tourists who planned their trip without a travel agency, from Hong Kong and Macau have only been allowed to visit the island, which is a little above a 1-hour-flight distance, again from February 20.

The Tourism Bureau launched various marketing and promotional actions to help drive tourism growth. For instance, it invited Drew Binsky, a travel vlogger and influencer with 3.5 million subscribers on YouTube, for a 5-day trip to Taiwan to experience “Taiwan’s colorful and unique culture.”

The hotel industry however faces a shortage of workers and the government also plans to issue subsidies to increase the hiring of service personnel and reduce turnover.

Locally, the prime minister also said all 23.7 million people living in Taiwan will each receive a one-off cash payment of 6,000 New Taiwan dollars ($197), amounting to 141.7 billion New Taiwan dollars ($4.7 billion) in total.

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