"The advantages of Taichung are: great location, great weather and the excellent quality of the residents here. On top of this, we have a rich background in culture and education", said Taichung City Mayor Jason Hu. "As long as we can make use of these advantages and create a selling point for ourselves, we should be able to mold this city and its sightseeing industry into something spectacular, by making the most of our cultural heritage, education, arts, performances, exhibitions, industries and other areas."
Taichung City is a cultivated city, and its development depends on whether or not this "cultivated" quality can be successfully marketed. Clearly, the tourism industry is a key to the future development of Taichung. We can even say that the tourism industry is an amalgamation of all its attractions and specialties, including public safety, transportation, environmental protection and other government policies. All these are closely related to the promotion of the tourism industry. Like a bundle of Dragon Boat festival dumplings, picking up the "tourism" dumpling means you pick up the entire bundle of "government development "dumplings. If the tourism industry is properly developed, other government development will follow in its footsteps.
Leading Tourism with Activities
During Mayor Hu's first year in office, it was hoped that the Taichung Lantern Festival would attract over 100,000 visitors. In the end, over 2.3 million visitors were recorded, which delighted city officials. The following year's Taiwan Lantern Festival was held in Taichung city and, in 12 days, 64 million visitors came; an almost unbelievable result. According to statistics, the 12 days of the Lantern Festival generated over NT$5 billion worth of business for the city. NT$100 million in sun cakes alone were sold during this period. Naturally, businesses were very happy with the results.
The management of the traffic situation, and the maintenance of cleanliness and public safety during this period were all valuable experiences for Taichung city. The event also proved that Taichung was not only full of tourism potential, but was also a city capable of holding large-scale events. The truth is that Taichung definitely has advantages in becoming the tourism and travel service hub for central Taiwan.
Mayor Hu pointed out that Taichung city should not limit itself by its geographical situation, but also look at the situation from a broader perspective. With Taichung city as a center, many scenic points can be reached within one to two hours of driving time. These can all be packaged into sightseeing tours. First come and visit Taichung city, then take a look at Sun Moon Lake the next day; travel to Sani (Sanyi) to buy wooden carvings; take a look at the mountain views of Wushe; enjoy blossom viewing in Tian Wei; or visit ancient sites at Lugang (Lukang). The "package tour" concept involves making Taichung city a travel hub, then connecting it with all the other scenic points.
However, how can we raise people's interest in Taichung city? Events ought to be a great attraction. At the moment, tourism hotspots within the management of the Taichung city government include Taichung Park, Encore Garden and 18 other scenic sights. Special sightseeing directories and sightseeing buses are all being planned as part of the overall Taichung city tourism development plan, as well as the Da Keng Scenic Area overall development plan.
Developing Industries Through Tourism
The value of the tourism industry is limitless. With the slogan "Events Pushing Forward Tourism, Tourism Pushing Forward Industrial Development〞as its target, the government hopes to create a beautiful new Taichung city through effective packaging and marketing, plus the joint efforts of all businesses and the government itself. The government places great importance on any opportunities that may improve the tourism industry. Over the last three years, major efforts in this area include: 1. Becoming the cultural and recreational travel center of central Taiwan; 2. Becoming central Taiwan's tourism services information center; 3. Promoting travel packages; 4. Holding special tourism related events; 5. Strengthening hotel, motel and inn services.
Inspecting the City's Marketing
When considering the marketing of Taichung, the economic situation must first be examined. According to statistics issued by the Ministry of the Interior, in 2003 Taichung city's home-purchasing rate was the second highest in all of Taiwan. In 2004, this reached was 10.17% which meant that one out of every ten households bought a house, pushing Taichung into first place. In 2005, the number of Taichung home buying and selling transactions was ranked third in the country, with 1,296 transactions taking place. Taichung's real estate market indicates that the city's economy is thriving compared to other cities.
The second factor to look at is population fluctuation. Since passing the million mark in 2003, Taichung city's population has continued to grow by over 1,000 people each month. Among these, about 600 to 700 are newborn babies and the rest are new immigrants. However,"young immigrants" have slowly overtaken the number of newborn babies. This is an important indicator, signifying the confidence that people have in Taichung city and that they are happy to make this city their home, which means that marketing efforts have been effective.
A third factor is investment. The success of investments in the Central Taiwan Science-Based Industrial Park is already evident. Fierce competition between cities has made it necessary for cities and industries to communicate with each other effectively. In order to win investments and retain businesses, Mayor Hu has designed the investment-made-easy "one-stop-window" policy, as well as carry out regular meetings with the Taichung Industrial Park Association every three months to resolve any problems that businesses may have, so as not to lose them. As a result, not only have industries remained in Taichung, but new ones have also been attracted to the city.
Establishing a Marketing Strategy: The Heart of Taiwan
In order to market a product, step one is to establish the market and step two is to establish the product. Taichung city has clearly established its product as "Central Taiwan", with young people between the ages of 25 to 45 as their target. With some marketing and packaging, using "Heart of Taiwan" as its slogan, signifying that this city is at the heart of the nation, Taichung has become the hottest, most passionate city of Taiwan.
Results of Sales and Promotions:
The city government has been promoting Taichung city through the news, tourism and sales plans in the past few years, these efforts include the following:
- Publishing the city government monthly magazine "Sparkling Taichung": In May 2004, the city government published and printed 15,000 copies of this monthly magazine. Using lively, realistic and humorous contents to inform Taichung citizens about the happenings of Taichung city, in order to not only gain recognition amongst the people of Taichung, but also inform the people about what the government is doing for them.
- Public Broadcast Promotions: In the last three years, government promotional broadcasts, interviews, advertisements and a live call in talk show were broadcasted on several Taichung radio stations, including FM100.7, FM106 M Radio, FM97.7 Classical Radio, FM89.1 Sunny Radio. These shows help the public understand policies that the city government is carrying out.
- Producing Informative City Government Programs: In the last one or two years, the city government has purchased professional audio and visual equipment, trained up professional photographers, film editors and production talents; and began producing city government promotional videos, recordings of activities and speeches. These videodiscs are then distributed or broadcasted on Channel 8 of Taichung’s Chun-Chien Cable TV network.
- Producing the "Taichung City Guide" Disc and Handbook: Every two years, the Taichung city government will produce a Taichung city guidebook (including a CD version) which provides the public with an understanding of Taichung city's latest developments, including the shifts in population, city government plans and developments and other issues. At the moment, this guide is available in Chinese, English and Japanese versions.
- Holding New Year's Eve Parties and Other Major Celebratory Events: The New Year's Eve Party held by the city government at the Taichung Stadium attracts almost 10,000 people each year and has become a very popular public event. When the "Sinon Bulls" baseball team won the Grand Championship, a parade was held for them. In March 2005, popular Taiwan band May Day held a concert. There was a special show of the "Legend of the White Snake" in June. All these events were well received by the Taichung public.
- Photography and Film Production Competition: Since 2004, a photography and film production competition named "One Day in Taichung City" has been held each year; the public has been able to express their views and participate in various development projects in Taichung city. This allows the public and tourists to get to know Taichung more, and make video records of Taichung's beauty and culture.
- Golden Horse Film Awards in Taichung: On December 4, 2004, Taichung city held the 41st Golden Horse Film Awards Ceremony for the first time. Celebrities and movie stars gathered together that evening, it was broadcasted live and widely reported by the media, so that people in Taiwan and around the globe were able to watch the Golden Horse Awards in Taichung and appreciate the scenes and sights of the city. This not only successfully promoted Taichung; it also greatly benefited other related industries such as restaurants, hotels and souvenir shops. This is a good example of public events bringing about economic development and promoting the city at the same time.
Eternal Taichung: A Brand To Be Proud Of
In light of the world trend of globalization, Taichung insists on being different, with cultural creativity and its multi-faceted cultural industries, believing that Taichung's special characteristics can be developed in this way. On the other hand, Mayor Jason Hu--who believes that being a mayor is like being a shop owner--has always insisted that culture is a good business. Various sources of cultural creativity, from hardware developments to cultural sightseeing activities, all will help spur the development of the tourism industry, creating endless business and economic value. These efforts will transform Taichung into a city that encompasses creativity, energy and culture. Through these multi-faceted marketing strategies, this city will bring its competitiveness into play, helping put Taichung in the center of the international stage.