Promoting Taiwan’s tourism potential

Lonely Planet author Robert Kelly has written a great article about Taiwan’s tourism potential in the latest Taiwan Journal. He notes the increasing number of tourists to Taiwan, mainly from Asia. He also points out that niche tourism such as hiking and bird watching is attracting more visitors.

Another interesting article, from Reuters correspondent Ralph Jennings, reports on the promotion of bicycle tourism on the east coast. It is a good example of the things Kelly writes about being put into action.

Kelly concludes his article by noting that there is still room for improvement in promoting Taiwan to Westerners.

the 2008-09 report states that international travel bloggers will be invited to Taiwan to write about its attractions. Yet Taiwan already has many dedicated and highly informed foreign bloggers. On their own, these people are getting the word out about Taiwan’s appeal to thousands. Harnessing their enthusiasm, and giving them a little official boost, can only help to spread the message even further.

It is an important point because the English language websites and web based promotion of the tourist industry is often poorly done. As far as I know there have never been any attempt by the Tourism Bureau to engage with local English-language bloggers. Kelly’s own blog, Pashan, does a far better job than any government website for promoting hiking in Taiwan. The same could be said for a number of other Taiwan bloggers who communicate their passion for the island through writing and photos on their blogs.

Tony Wheeler in Taiwan

Tony Wheeler speaks during a presentation at the Taipei Book Fair on 16 Feb 2008

After visiting the Taipei Book Fair on Thursday (14 February) I returned on Saturday to attend Tony and Maureen Wheeler's presentation "Once While Travelling." Tony talked about his experiences travelling and building up the Lonely Planet business with his wife Maureen.

All this is discussed in his book Once While Travelling which has now been published in Chinese (title: 當我們旅行) for the Taiwanese market. He also talked about his new book Bad Lands which has also been released in a Chinese translation (title: 險惡之旅). These are two of the Lonely Planet titles that have now been published in Chinese-language editions for Taiwan. The other eight titles are travel guides to various countries. 

A long Q&A session followed the talk and I asked Tony and Maureen how many times they had visited Taiwan. Tony replied that even though Lonely Planet Taiwan was in its seventh edition, more than twenty years since it was first published, this was his first visit to Taiwan. However, after the Book Fair he planned to stay in Taiwan to do some travelling. Tony has written about a day by day account of his travels around Taiwan on his blog. 

(If there are any more updates to Tony's blog I will add the links)

2008 Taipei Book Fair

Show me Australia Photography Competition at the 2008 Taipei Book Fair

The Taipei International Book Exhibition (TIBE) is now on at the Taipei World Trade Centre. The theme of last year's exhibition was Russia and this year it is Australia. The exhibition is a major event for Asian publishers and there is a huge range of books on display. 

Tony and Maureen Wheeler of Lonely Planet fame being interviewed at the 2008 Taipei Book Fair

I was keen to see Tony Wheeler and lo and behold minutes after entering the hall I saw him being interviewed along with his wife Maureen at the Australian Pavillion. Other Australian authors attending the event include Markus Zusak, author of The Book Thief, and illustrator Shaun Tan.

Chinese-language editions of Lonely Planet books at the 2008 Taipei Book Fair

Lonely Planet now publishes Chinese-language editions of some of its guidebooks. I am sure Tony and Maureen Wheeler's visit to Taiwan will help raise the company's profile here.  

Shieh Jhy-wey the Taiwan GIO Minister in the Textbox at the Taipei Book Fair

Shieh Jhy-wey (謝志偉) is pictured above in the Textbox. He is doing a rap in Hoklo Taiwanese (when he is not rapping he serves as the Minister for the GIO). This innovation (the Textbox not Shieh's rapping) was bought to Taipei from the Frankfurt Book Fair. It allows readers to get up close to an author. The author is in a glass box while the audience listens in via headphones. 

One book for NT$100 at the 2008 Taipei Book Fair

I only bought one book at the exhibition and it was a great bargain. It is at the bottom left-hand corner of the photo above. It is called 省錢環島遊 or Money Saving Guide Around Taiwan and cost just NT$100. It recommends lots of free and cheap things to do around Taiwan with maps and descriptions.  

Cute cosplay girl at 2008 Taipei Book Fair

Hall 2 of the TWTC is dedicated to anime and manga (comics or graphic novels). It was very lively with plenty of people buying up the latest manga. Hall 3 is for children's books. There is plenty to see and do there. 

The exhibition continues at the Taipei World Trade Centre until Monday 18 February. More information is available at the Taipei International Book Exhibition website.  

*more photos in the 2008 Taipei Book Fair photoset at flickr.  

Another Lonely Planet

cover of Lonely Planet Taiwan 7th editionWhen I first came to Taiwan back in 1999 I had a copy of the fourth edition of Lonely Planet Taiwan. I have since bought the fifth and sixth editions. The seventh edition of Lonely Planet Taiwan was published in November 2007 and I recently got a copy. 

The seventh edition was written by Robert Kelly and Joshua Samuel Brown, both long term residents of Taiwan. Robert Kelly also contributed to the sixth edition and Joshua is the author of Vignettes of Taiwan.  

Lonely Planet didn't just stick a new cover on an old book. The seventh edition has been extensively updated and includes some new places. The east coast section has been expanded with details of many of the interesting places between Taidong and Hualian as well as the expected coverage of these two cities. There is also more detailed coverage of Taiwan's islands. 

There are always a few places that will get left out of any guide book. Nanzhuang and Taipingshan were two that I thought were notable for their omission. However, I don't think this is such a bad thing. It still leaves a few interesting places for the traveller to discover and adds an element of surprise. There are also a number of places listed in the book that I had never heard of but am certainly curious to visit. The Danayigu Ecological Park is one. I suggest you read the book if you want to find out more. 

The coverage of hiking is great and there a range of hikes covered from easy walks that take a few hours to multi-day expeditions. I like the writing style of the with its many interesting little anecdotes.

There are plenty of maps, as is the standard for Lonely Planet guides. The map keys have place names written in English/Pinyin as well as Chinese characters. Names in the text also have pinyin with tone marks which should be useful for getting the pronunciation right. 

Overall, this is an excellent guide that would serve any traveller in Taiwan very well.

*purchase Lonely Planet Taiwan from

#also posted at Taiwanderful.