By Chuang, Li-cheng（莊立誠） Lam, Tsz-ching(林梓晴)
After Tsai Ing-wen became the president, her government has been working hard to promote the New Southbound Policy, which is aimed at increasing economic and trade exchanges between Taiwan and Southeast Asian countries. In order to expand the tourist market between Southeast Asia and Taiwan, the government has made great efforts. The policy requires many reciprocal measures, however, and there are still many problems.
Tourism is one of the vital soft powers of Taiwan. The government has promoted tourism for a long time. Under the New Southbound Policy, the authorities hope to attract much more Southeast Asian tourists to Taiwan. According to Taiwan’s Tourism Bureau, the number of tourists from Southeast Asia has increased year by year. There are three main aspects of the tourism policy: subsidize the tour leader and tour guide with Southeast Asian language abilities, grant visa-free treatment to some countries, and jointly develop tourism industry with partner governments.
Nevertheless, the policy has achieved only limited results for the travel agency operators. Lin Zi-yun（林紫雲）of the Lion Travel said, tourism could be classified into two parts, ” Inbound and Outbound.”（入境與出境旅遊） It seems that Southeast Asian travelers love to travel by themselves instead of joining the tourist groups. As a result, travel agencies could hardly benefit from the policy. Lin also said that, tourists from Southeast Asia usually only travel in cities, especially in Taipei city. It’s because that the travel facilities are not friendly to them. For example, there are not enough Muslim Prayer Rooms（穆斯林祈禱室）, and also not enough Southeast Asian-language publications. We could easily see the English signs and indicators in every scenic spot, not those in Vietnamese or Indonesian, for example.
Ms. Hanh is a tourist from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. She said, she was visiting Taiwan because she heard that Taiwan government has made it easier for Asians to get the visa. The most important thing is that Taiwanese are very hospitable and friendly. She hopes that she could visit again in the future.
Regional integration is a new trend in the world. Besides New Southbound Policy, there are still lots of thing to do, so that we could embrace visitors from all over the world.