Travel may have come to a standstill globally, yet Taiwan has waged one of the world’s most successful battles against the pandemic — through swift border restrictions, firm leadership, robust testing, and working from lessons learnt during SARS.
With the domestic situation brought swiftly under control in the early days of the outbreak, President Tsai Ing-wen said Taiwan is also supporting the global community by donating surplus masks and supplies to countries that were hit hardest — sending millions of face masks to Europe, America and diplomatic allies.
Such internal stability allowed Taiwan to proceed with hosting the 9th World Congress of Facial Plastic Surgery in February. Attended by hundreds of international delegates and held for the first time – both in Asia and at the Taipei International Convention Center (TICC) – the event provided a roadmap for MICE planners on how to do business during the outbreak.
Even now, Taiwan continues to lead the way in post-coronavirus opening. TAITRA (Taiwan External Trade Development Council) officially reopened the domestic MICE sector on 11 June, and expects to see an estimated 50 events take place between June and July, covering industries such as F&B, sports, and gaming.
Weekend business trips: First to resume?
Business travel has always been a major market for Taiwan. Global hotel brand, Marriott International shared that “business travellers accounted for 30% of our business [in Taiwan], with Taipei being one of the most popular destinations,” according to Hans Loontiens, market vice president Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and Hainan.
With the pandemic’s hit, trends have taken a shift. Speaking to M&C Asia in July, numbers have dropped to 20%, while Taichung has become a new area for business travellers, according to Marriott International.
The hotelier also noted they’ve seen business returning and doing well in secondary/third-tier destinations, as opposed to tier-one destinations. “It is likely the potential for weekend business trips in leisure destinations will work to this trend as well,” said Loontiens.
On this note, Taiwan has always stood out as a strong incentives destination, blessed with geographical richness that fuses wonderfully with modern cities – which is why event planners have no trouble arranging their delegates to transit from meetings to recreation – all in one day.
Advancing with new business infrastructure
Taoyuan Convention and Exhibition Center will launch in 2023, which will connect the Asia Silicon Innovation R&D Center, a hotel, baseball stadium, and metro stop A19 on the airport line. Its 76,120sqm grounds will offer 600 exhibition seats, and a conference hall accommodating 2,000 people.
In central Taiwan, the Shuinan International Convention Exhibition Center is slated to open by 2022 and will accommodate 1,600 delegates. Moving to the south, the Tainan Convention & Exhibition Center will open in 2021 with over 10,000sqm of event space, while the Kaohsiung Music Center is expected to launch by end-2020, allowing groups of up to 10,000 at the outdoor area.
Moving around and about cities is also equally important, since Taiwan is a popular destination for meetings and incentives. Port city, Kaohsiung, already has a future metro line in the works, while in Tainan, an express bus service connecting Kaohsiung International Airport and Tainan kickstarted in January, eliminating multiple transport transfers previously needed.
To manage the increasing numbers passing through Taiwan, multiple airports are also undergoing expansion. Its largest, Taoyuan International Airport added their new StarLux Airlines in January, while Terminal 3 and an additional third runway will open by 2025. Plans for a new terminal at Kaohsiung International Airport have also been approved.
With projects moving ahead as planned as much as possible, Taiwan is poised to stage a swift comeback to the business events scene. Meet Taiwan is also offering a number of subsidy schemes and support programmes to assist international conference, incentive and meeting planners. This includes financial assistance, fast-tacking of visa applications, and VIP souvenirs. For more information visit: https://www.meettaiwan.com/en_US/index.html.
Taitra’s latest announcements for business travellers
• All short-term business travellers are allowed entry for purposes such as goods inspection, after-sales services, technical assistance, contract signing, and are also eligible to apply for shortened home quarantine.
• Upon entry, five-day quarantine followed by self-funded Covid-19 testing is required.
• Those who test negative will be free to engage in their business activities, and obliged to keep records of their health and places visited until the 21st day of visit.
• Check the Taiwan Global Anti-COVID-19 Pavilion for latest updates: www.anticovid19tw.org