【Sights to Behold】
The finest student athletes in the world will descend on Taipei City in August to put their strength, agility and perseverance to the test at the 29th Summer Universiade. More than 7,700 competitors from 153 countries will vie for medals in 21 sports at 38 venues in and around the nation’s capital, which has spared no effort in its preparations for the largest international sporting event ever staged in Taiwan.
While the Universiade will afford young athletes a chance to shine on the world stage, the games also provide an opportunity for Taiwan to flex its soft power. Tens of thousands of spectators are expected to attend, and those who do will have access to a vast array of cultural attractions, delicious food and stunning natural scenery.
Hosting the Universiade is part of broader efforts to bolster the nation’s tourism sector, a major contributor to Taiwan’s economy as well as a platform for enhancing international exchanges. In 2016, the country welcomed a record 10.69 million visitors. The government aims to increase that number this year and is implementing a three-pronged approach designed to boost tourism in every region of Taiwan.
The first step involves distributing public funds equitably across the nation so as to ensure balanced development and promotion of each area’s distinctive elements. Second, the government is working to revise relevant policies so they better reflect the needs of the tourism industry. Focus is also being placed on properly utilizing the nation’s unique attributes, such as its indigenous cultures and endemic flora and fauna.
In April, for example, the Tourism Bureau under the Ministry of Transportation and Communications unveiled a nationwide ecotourism campaign consisting of 20 diverse outdoor excursions. On these outings, people can hike pristine forest trails, observe wildlife such as birds, dolphins, fireflies and whales, and explore life in Taiwan’s indigenous communities.
To help attract visitors, the government is also working to foster emerging trends. One such area is cruise tourism, which has been making significant gains in Asia. According to state-run Taiwan International Ports Corp., the nation serviced roughly 700,000 cruise passengers from home and abroad in 2016. This number is projected to rise to over 1 million passengers this year, with the local cruise sector bringing in around NT$5 billion (US$165.6 million).
In addition to the abovementioned efforts, the government attributes much of the increase in tourist numbers to simplified visa regulations for visitors from nations targeted under the New Southbound Policy. One of the key components of President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) national development strategy, the initiative seeks to deepen agricultural, business, cultural, education, trade and tourism links with Association of Southeast Asian Nations member states, six South Asian countries, Australia and New Zealand.
With the Universiade around the corner, Taiwan has stepped up its efforts to welcome athletes and visitors from the four corners of globe. In and around the capital city, spectators from home and abroad will sit in the stands and cheer together, celebrating feats of athleticism that embody the values Taiwan and fellow democracies embrace—honesty, fairness, fortitude and inclusiveness, as well as the virtues of healthy competition.