A personal visit to Taiwan made me realize that both its reputation as a lush island with warm temperatures and as a modern high-tech destination were true. Its kind population are slowly enjoying the easiness of health measures and were even more welcome with visitors. Small traditional joints for street food stand side by side with impressive newly-built skyscrapers, all filled with people eager to help.
In the framework of promoting the island post-pandemic in the global business events scene, the Bureau of Foreign Trade (BOFT) under the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) is actively showing its support for incoming conferences and exhibitions. A number of financial subsidies with different criteria are available to event planners, according to the size and duration of each event on top of the active software support offered by the convention bureau team (assistance with bidding, help finding a venue, connection with local stakeholders).
The government is focusing its efforts on the island’s three main cities – namely Kaohsiung, Tainan, and Taipei – which are now well-prepared as far as the hardware of business events is concerned. New convention centres, digital improvements, and accommodation to cover the needs of incoming visitors have been added to the existing facilities. These visitors will discover a new wave of change which combines sustainability and innovation with Taiwan’s rich cultural offerings.
The Port City of Kaohsiung
Located in the far south part of the island, the country’s largest harbor city has undergone major change over the last 8 years. “Kaohsiung has rapidly transformed from a fishing village to a powerful industrial hub for steel, petrochemical materials, and shipbuilding, contributing massively to the country’s economic growth. 5G coverage throughout the city and a cluster for semiconductors have also created a high-tech vibe,” says Chen-Yuan Kao, Deputy Director-General at the Kaohsiung Economic Development Bureau.
However, the city has managed to keep (and enhance) its culture and environmental character aiming to be the most livable city in Taiwan. The Asia New Bay Area has upgraded the harbor facilities offering green space and major public projects, like the Music Center and the Kaohsiung Exhibition Center (KEC).
“Opened in 2014, KEC has maintained a strong connection with the sea through its wave-shaped structure to make the space as pleasant as possible. Its proximity to the MRT and the High Speed Rail provide easy access to the airport and the capital,” says Robert Campbell, Executive VP of KEC. Divided in two halls, North and South, it offers 18,000 sqm of exhibition space and a convention centre with 15 rooms for up to 4,000 people in the biggest one, KEC has experience in large events, like the 59th ICCA Congress in 2020 and part of the ‘Creative Expo Taiwan’ in 2022. 400 hotels with 20,000 rooms complete the city’s event capabilities.
The oldest city of Taiwan (400 years old this year) lies a bit further north. Its smaller size and extensive heritage have helped the city focus on greener values and sustainable development. “Our city is making a turn towards renewable energy and green practices,” says Louisa Kuo, Director-General of Tainan’s Tourism Bureau. “We are partnering with the right stakeholders to promote sustainable business events that fit Tainan’s profile. And all in a safe environment, since we have acquired the Safe Travels Stamp certification.”
Additional to being the biggest industrial cluster in Taiwan comprising 15 different fields, Tainan boasts research and development capabilities. A state-of-the-art Cybersecurity and Smart Technology research centre (opened in 2021) facilitates public and private collaboration and innovation. The building offers meeting facilities for up to 300 people and a large atrium that can hold international exhibitions.
The brand-new ICC Tainan is undeniably the city’s biggest infrastructure for business events. The sustainable venue (divided in 3 parts for easier heating) fits in with Tainan’s style, using red-colored bricks like may traditional buildings and the logo ‘Sail Away With Tainan’. Located close to the HSR station, it gives easy access from the rest of the country. It is surrounded by 1,000 hotel rooms of all ranges.
The space itself includes an exhibition centre and a convention centre. The 10,692 sqm booth area on the first floor can accommodate 600 standard booths and up to 5,000 people in a column-free indoor exhibition space, including one conference room for 800 people, one conference room for 1,000 people, five conference rooms for 100 people, and three conference rooms for 20 people. Equipped with 5G and metaverse technology, ICC Tainan is ready to meet any demand.
Taipei: The Capital
From a rich street food culture and dispersed monuments to modern sky-rises (Taipei 101) and high-tech clusters, Taipei City is as diverse as it gets. Taiwan’s most-visited destination has always been restless, even during the pandemic. In 2022, InterNations Expat Insider has ranked the city #1 worldwide for health and wellbeing, #2 for quality of living and #3 for safety.
Chiu-Huo Shiue, Deputy Commissioner of Taipei Information and Tourism Department said: “We have worked hard and it has paid off. We were the first city in Taiwan to get the Safe Travels Stamp. We have recently joined the Union of International Associations (UIA) and the Hybrid City Alliance. Our business events sector is highly adaptable to all needs, in-person or hybrid.”
In fact, in 2023 the World News Media Congress and the 46th International ACM SIGIR Conference on Research and Development in Information Retrieval are coming to the city. The much-expected Taiwan Lantern Festival will also return to Taipei in 2023. Furthermore, the Rotary International Conventions is to be held there in 2026.
New venues have joined the long-standing Taipei International Convention Center (TICC) and the Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center (TAINEX) to accommodate all the planned meetings. Opened in 2020, the Music Center is a 20-minute ride from the train station and can accommodate 5,000 people on its premises. A bit further down, the recently opened iconic Performance Arts Center has a capacity of 2,300 people, whereas the Taipei Dome (due to open in 2023) will cater for larger events of up to 50,000 people.