How do you draw more tourists to Taipei?
For the mayor of Taiwan’s capital, the answer is simple: promote the city at the expense of your main competitor, Hong Kong.
Faced with declining tourist arrivals from mainland China amid worsening cross-strait relations, Taipei is seeking to attract more tourists from other overseas markets.
Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je has embarked on an eight-day trip to promote his city as a tourist destination in Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, New Delhi and other Asian markets.
Zheng Chujin, vice chairman of the Thai Tourism Business Association,was quoted as saying on Wednesday that some 530,000 residents in Bangkok visited Hong Kong last year, compared with 190,000 who visited Taipei in the same period.
Still, Zheng believes that Taipei can beat Hong Kong as a tourist destination if only it would enhance its marketing efforts, noting that the Taiwanese capital is a good place to shop and have fun.
Apprised of what Zheng said, Ko, who was in Bangkok on Wednesday, told media he totally agreed with the assessment, news website hk01.com reported.
Ko said Hong Kong, being such a small city, is so boring and has very little to offer to tourists.
He said he has been to Victoria Peak so many times that he has lost count, apparently implying that Hong Kong has too few interesting places for tourists to visit.
Taipei city government spokesman Liu Yi-ting, apparently sensing that Ko’s remarks might sound unfair or offensive, explained to media later that what the mayor meant was that Taipei hopes to lure more Thai tourists with its mountain resorts and hot springs.
Liu also cited the increased flights to Taipei and its visa-free policy, all of which, it is hoped, will help make it more attractive than Hong Kong.
Ko is quite known for making reckless comments in Taiwan, but his comments about the Chinese territory still managed to spark intense discussion among Hong Kong netizens, whose opinions about the matter were divided, according to online forum hkgolden.com.
One netizen said Ko’s remarks about Hong Kong were true. Another said many local restaurants catering for foreign tourists are not favored by Hongkongers at all.
Others took offense, saying that Ko himself is boring and not qualified to call Hong Kong a boring place.
Another netizen said Ko should not promote Taipei by denigrating Hong Kong.
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