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Lunch meeting with the Tourism Bureau on shopping tourism

On 22 July, the ECCT held an intimate round table lunch meeting with Eric Lin, Director of the International Affairs Division of the Tourism Bureau, under the Ministry of Transportation and Communications. The event was hosted by the ECCT's Luxury Goods committee and attended by around 20 members from the luxury goods, retail and travel and tourism industry. During the event, members asked questions to and exchanged ideas with Director Lin on ways to boost Taiwan's image and attractiveness as a shopping destination.

In his introduction, Luxury Good committee Co-chair, Gary Lau, noted that Taiwan is an attractive and competitive destination for shopping but the fact is not well known. Besides Taiwan's own brands, all of the top international luxury brands have operations in Taiwan. In addition, Taiwan's level of customer service has been praised as superior to other countries in the Asian region, while retail prices, including the price of luxury goods, are very competitive. In recent years, visitors to better-known shopping destinations in Asia have complained about the lack of personalized service as well as the lack of bargains, even during sales season, because of the sheer volume of competing shoppers. Taiwan does not have the same problems. For these reasons, Taiwan has great potential to capture a much larger share of the regional tourism shopping market. The trick is to run effective marketing campaigns that highlight and promote Taiwan's strengths. In order to assist the government in its efforts to promote Taiwan as a shopping destination, the main subject of the Luxury Goods' committee's forthcoming (2015) position paper will be promoting Taiwan as a shopping destination.

In his remarks, Director Lin thanked ECCT members for their suggestions and assistance in various initiatives. For example, ECCT members offered advice and reviewed the contents of a shopping brochure produced by the bureau last year. Promoting shopping tourism was also a subject in a recent article in the bureau's Travel in Taiwan magazine. Lin remarked that promoting shopping tourism is a goal that the Tourism Bureau shares with the ECCT and welcomed suggestions for further improvements and cooperation.

Director Lin reported that from January to May, there was a 26% year on year increase in inbound tourism to Taiwan. He said that Taiwan was on track to receive over nine million visitors this year and 10 million in 2015, compared to eight million in 2013. With a high growth rate, the tourism industry is one of Taiwan's bright economic prospects.

Lin said that the bureau was not just aiming to increase tourist arrivals but is very much focused on quality and increasing the average spending by tourists on hospitality, travel and shopping. Lin noted that the proportion of free independent travelers (FIT) as a proportion of overall visitors continues to rise compared to large tour groups. The majority of tourists from Hong Kong, Macau and Japan are already FITs but with the recent opening to FITs from 10 more cities in mainland China, this trend will continue. With the freedom to set their own itineraries, including shopping time, the trend should be positive for luxury retailers.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Director Lin thanked members for some useful ideas on how to promote shopping tourism and welcomed the suggestion to meet more regularly with the ECCT in future.