By Shelley Shan / Staff reporter, with CNA
The Tourism Administration plans to set up a branch office in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, next year as part of its efforts to attract Muslim tourists, agency Director-General Chou Yung-hui (周永暉) said yesterday.
The original plan was to set up operations in Dubai, which has direct flights to Taiwan, in 2020, but it was put on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chou said.
“With an operational base in Dubai, we will have more opportunities to travel to the Middle East to promote Taiwan as a tourist destination and invite tour operators there to scout for potential tour routes in Taiwan,” he said.
Taiwan this year ranked No. 3 in the Mastercard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index among travel destinations that are not part of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the agency said, adding that Taiwan has been rated as one of the top three non-OIC destinations since 2019.
Last year, Taiwan received “the Most Inclusive Non-OIC Destination” award from the CrescentRating’s annual “Halal Travel Award,” it said.
To create a Muslim-friendly environment, Taiwan has set up Muslim prayer rooms at international airports, major railway stations, freeway service areas and national scenic areas, it said.
The number of halal-certified hotels and restaurants across the nation has increased to 384, it said.
In related news, a delegation of tourism officials and industry representatives on Sunday left for North America to promote tours to Taiwan, the agency said.
The delegation, which comprises travel agents, hoteliers and airline operators, as well as Tourism Administration and local tourism officials, is scheduled to have three meetings with tourism industry representatives in Canada and the US, it said.
Meetings are to be held in Vancouver today, Los Angeles on Thursday and New York on Monday next week, it said.
This is the first tourism delegation organized by the Tourism Administration after it was upgraded from the Tourism Bureau on Friday last week.
“We hope that these three meetings would inspire more tour operators in North America to organize package tours to Taiwan,” it said.
The delegation has also prepared marketing events featuring Taiwanese food and beverages, it said.
As of July, Taiwan had 325,000 tourist arrivals from the US and Canada, about 75 percent of the 2019 level, agency statistics showed. The return of tourists from North America is the highest among all long-haul tourism markets, it said.
Air passengers traveling between Taiwan and North America had returned to 80 percent of pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels by last month, Taoyuan International Airport Corp said.
Eighty percent of the transit passengers at Taoyuan airport came from the US during the past eight months, it said.
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