Chen Sheng-shan (陳盛山),former chairman of Mandarin Airlines andthe incumbent Director-general of Tourism and Travel Bureau of Taichung City Government, has visited all the 29 administrative districts of Taichung in six months after he took office. He has then visited and tried to persuade domestic and foreign airlines companies to add flights back and forth from Taichung, especially those routes to Asian cities within three hours.
In the past, Taichung Chingchuankang Airport had only six international routes, including those to Vietnam’s Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, South Korea’s Seoul, Hong Kong, Macau and Japan’s Okinawa. Recently, a number of new flight routes have been added, making the sky of Taichung increasingly lively and internationalized.
Chen Sheng-shan said, “Aviation is the most convenient access to an international city, but an international city must build up its reputation to attract tourists and international airlines. That is why I have firstly integrated our tourism resources and then accessed those airlines companies from home and abroad, trying to persuade them to open up new routes to Taichung City. I am lucky tow in a great report card in such a short time. The Far Eastern Air Transport has added a new route from Taichung to Osaka, Japan since June. Air China has also added the flight route between Taichung and Chengdu, Sichuan, China since June. The Uni Air will open a new route to Seoul in October. Mandarin Airlines has added charter flights to Nagasaki, Japan since July and will add other charter flights to Oita, Japan in October. The charter flights will be extended to regular routes in the future. In addition, I have been coordinating domestic and foreign airlines companies to fly between Taichung and Tokyo, Japan, too.”
Making Asian passengers fall in love with Taichung
Chen Sheng-shan has flown to almost all the major international cities in the world and believes that a flight time within three hours is the most comfortable to travelers. Thus, he locks those major Asian cities within three-hour flight from Taichung and some Southeast Asian cities even within a five-hour flight.“I hope to stimulate more exchanges between Taichung and those cities by opening up new flight routes and Asian tourists will come in and go out from Taichung, so that they will stay in Taichung for at least two nights and plan their trips to Taichung City, Changhua County and Nantou County and even Miaoli, Yunlin and Chiayi,” added Chen Sheng-shan.“However, to achieve such a goal, we at the Tourism and Travel Bureau must do a lot of homework. For example, we can integrate our sightseeing highlights into package tours by quarter or even by month. We have many major year-round events from January to December in Taichung, such as the Central Taiwan Lantern Festival, the Matsu Cultural Festival, the Taichung Flower City Art Festival, the Jazz Music Festival, the Bike Festival, the Spa Tourism Season, the Xinshei Flower Sea Festival, and so forth. If we make good arrangement of them, they can attract international tourists.
“We have presented different tourism products to different Asian markets in each of their tourism promotion fairs. Take the Japanese market for example. We have promoted those areas that have had connections with Japan, such as the century-old Bairenchuan (白冷圳) in Xinshei, the Seed Improvement and Propagation Station, the Taichung Park in Central District, the Budokan Martial Arts Hall, the Museum of Literature, and Miyahara Eye Hospital. These package tours are expected to make Japanese visitors visualize the wisdom and dedication of their predecessors when they were stationed in Taichung. For tourists from Hong Kong and Macao, the third largest source of visitors to Taiwan, we have offered such sightseeing highlights in Taichung as leisure agriculture in combination with spa tourism, cultural activities together with cultural and creative industries, rich and diverse cuisines, and leisurely lifestyles. Many tourists from Hong Kong and Macao have told me they like our arrangements very much.”
Therefore, Chen Sheng-shan invited 22 large travel agencies from Hong Kong to inspect and experience the new itineraries in Central Taiwan in early July. The mission has visited the National Taichung Theater and the Calligraphy Greenway, picked fruits in Dongshi, sipped tea in the tea and humanities shops, and tasted the featured cakes and pastries from Taichung. The mission has even made a special trip to the Wufeng Golf Course, which is world-renown for its environmental protection without use of herbicides. When the group members spotted on the court some small mounds drilled out by earthworms and the rhinoceros beetles on the Formosan Ash trees, they were so amazed that they talked a lot about the “wonders” and considered incorporating such “wonders” into their package tours.
Taichung City, Changhua County and Nantou County work together to promote tourism
Chen Sheng-shan pointed out that Taichung Chingchuankang Airport has more outbound passengers than inbound passengers. “To attract more inbound tourists and make them stay in Taichung, we need to work together with the travel industry and the aviation industry. Therefore, we have invited such traders in Changhua and Nantou as the local hot-springs hotels, the cultural and creative enterprises, the bed and breakfasts and the tour associations to promote tourism,” added Chen Sheng-shan. “In our next step, we will expand the scope to cover Miaoli, Yunlin and Chiayi. The aim is to offer tourists with multi-destination and diversified tourism products so as to attract them to come in from Taichung Chingchuankang Airport and stay in Taichung for a longer time.”
“National Taichung Theater and the Southern Branch of National Palace Museum in Chiayi will be in operation soon,” said Chen Sheng-shan. “They will be new bright tourism spots in Central Taiwan. Moreover, such sports and leisure activities as golfing, baseball, and cycling are also worth promoting to tourists from Hong Kong, Macao, and Singapore. They can be promoted to such high-latitude countries as Japan and Korea for sightseeing and sports in the winter, too. We have been working with airlines companies and hotels to launch such themed itineraries as weddings, gourmet foods, and golfing. Imagine that foreigners are flocking to Taichung for weddings and golfing and business travelers are here to enjoy the opera and good foods and place orders to the Giant Bicycle Co. and Merida Bikes Co. Isn’t it a good way to promote local tourism industry and local industries at the same time.”
"Marketing with two legs running is slower than marketing with wings to fly," Chen Sheng-shan emphasized. “We at the Tourism and Travel Bureau have recently cooperated with Mandarin Airlines to paint the first-prized Taichung-Changhua-Nantou tourism imagery on a Boeing 737-800 aircraft, which has been newly purchased by Mandarin Airlines and which is stationed at the Chingchuankang Airport and flies back and forth to all the major routes in Asia on a regular basis. We hope this airplane with a beautiful Taichung-Changhua-Nantou tourism imagery on its body can endorse and promote the tourism for Taichung City, Changhua County and Nantou County.”