Best of Taste Taiwan, the latest tourism campaign led by the Taiwan Tourism Bureau’s overseas offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York, concluded at the end of June after nearly two months of increased efforts to attract American visitors to Taiwan. Using social media promotions on its Facebook page, as well as a 30-minute video called “Best of Taste Taiwan: 10 Things You Must Do,” the Taiwan Tourism Bureau sought to promote Taiwan as the “Heart of Asia.” This has been the official campaign slogan for international tourism launched by the Taiwan Ministry of Transportation and Communications in 2011.
Taiwan’s “Heart of Asia” campaign had originally aimed to boost Taiwan’s annual number of visitors from 6 million at the time of the launch to 10 million, a feat it achieved for the first time in 2015 according to data from the ministry’s Tourism Bureau. However, more than half of those visitors were overseas Chinese in 2014 and 2015. In addition, the amount of American visitors to Taiwan has been steadily declining since 2001, dropping more than 20% between 2001 and 2011 while American visitors to other Asian countries like China and India increased more than 60% and 100% respectively.
This decline might explain why this most recent campaign was geared specifically toward an American audience rather than Asians living in the US. The Taiwan Tourism Bureau invited Mike Siegel, producer of the Travel Tales podcast, to host the film at the center of the campaign. The film was also meant to be an introduction to the island of Taiwan for foreigners. It offered basic facts about Taiwan’s history, culture, tourist attractions, and ease of access from the US. The campaign was also promoted mainly in California and New York, two of only four states with direct flights to Taipei.
Beyond active campaigns to encourage American citizens to visit Taiwan, the Taiwanese government’s various ministries dealing with the United States in the absence of official diplomatic relations have taken on other projects to promote Taiwan’s culture. The Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office has promoted its “Overseas Quality Restaurant” award to spread authentic Taiwanese cuisine in the US, and within the last few years the Taiwan Tourism Bureau has promoted US-Taiwan tourism and business ties through partnerships with the San Francisco Bay Area Council and the Houston Rockets. Taiwan has also become an increasingly popular destination for American students studying abroad, the number of which hit a record high in 2015.
Andrea Moneton is a Research Intern at the East-West Center in Washington and a student at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.