Taiwan tourism talent in great demand

Taiwan badly needs tourism talent, particularly tour guides versed in Mandarin and various foreign languages, as more Chinese citizens and international tourists visit the country, travel industry executives said over the weekend.

According to Tourism Bureau statistics, Chinese citizens have made more than 840,000 visits to Taiwan so far this year, leading to a shortage of Mandarin-speaking tour guides.

But Hsu Kao-ching, secretary-general of the Travel Agent Association of the Republic of China, said the shortage should be resolved by the end of this year when 9,000 newly accredited tour guides begin working.

The far more serious problem facing the travel industry lies in the dire shortage of tour guides who speak foreign languages, particularly Thai and Korean, Hsu said.

Meanwhile, travel industry sources said the booming tourism market has inspired some people to pursue new careers by obtaining tour guide or tour leader licenses.

Also, an online poll for Taiwan's most special night market is entering its final stage, with more and more people joining this first-ever tourism promotion program.

The following are excerpts from local media coverage of the issue:

United Daily News:

Hsiao Chih-yang, president of a local tour group leader association, said many retired civil servants and unemployed middle-aged people have attended association-sponsored courses in preparation for accreditation examinations.

"Some civil servants have also attended our evening courses after getting off work in preparation for entering the travel business after retiring, " Hsiao said, adding that a retired Air Force major general recently earned accreditation as a tour group leader.

Kuo-Su Tsan-yang, a former deputy director of the Tourism Bureau who secured both English tour guide and group leader licenses in May, said, however, that he does not aim to pursue a travel service career.

Since Kuo-Su retired from the Tourism Bureau last year, he has been teaching tourism-related courses at a local college.

"I have asked my students to earn at least two travel service licenses. I felt that I had to lead by example and registered for tour guide and group leader accreditation tests in March, " Kuo-Su said. The experience allowed him to review whether there existed any problems or flaws in Taiwan's accreditation system, he added.

Kuo-Su, who worked in South Korea, New Zealand, Australia and Germany for a total of 11 years during his time at the Tourism Bureau, is now attending a course to prepare himself for a tour operator accreditation examination to be held late this year.

By acquiring professional accreditations, Kuo-Su said he looks forward to becoming a travel expert capable of providing useful guidance and helping various groups develop tourism.

With China expected to replace Japan as Taiwan's largest source of foreign tourists, many people are preparing for Mandarin tour guide accreditation tests.

In 2009, Taiwan had only 14,000 accredited Mandarin tour guides. As a result, anybody with experience in serving Chinese tour groups was very busy.

To address the problem, the Tourism Bureau recruited 9,000 candidates in May this year through accreditation tests. These individuals will complete mandatory training courses in several groups in the coming months, said Travel Agent Association secretary-general Hsu.

"We believe the supply of Mandarin-speaking tour guides will be sufficient to meet market demand by early next year," Hsu said.

In contrast, Hsu said he is more concerned about the short supply of tour guides who speak foreign languages.

"The Tourism Bureau has devoted much energy to attracting tourists from Thailand, South Korea and Muslim countries in recent years. However, we have not seen any increase in the number of tour guides who can speak the languages of those countries fluently, " Hsu lamented.

Despite a steady rise of tourist arrivals from those countries, Taiwan has fewer than 50 Thai-speaking tour guides, and the number of Korean-speaking tour guides has also fallen short of the target by more than 100.

"The demand for these two kinds of tour guides is so strong that nearly all those who registered for Thai- and Korean-language tour guide accreditation have earned licenses, " said Hsu, who added that Malay- and Indonesian-language-speaking tour guides are also in short supply.

In addition to urging the Tourism Bureau to come up with solutions to the problems, Hsu also advised those aspiring to pursue a tourism career to seize the opportunities in those sectors instead of seeking Mandarin tour guide accreditation. (Aug. 8, 2020).

China Times:

In an innovative effort to promote tourism, the Tourism Bureau launched a campaign earlier this year to select the top night markets in five categories: most popular, most environmentally friendly, most fascinating, easiest to shop at, and best food.

Besides expert assessments, local residents are also invited to give their opinions in an online poll. The top 10 night markets selected in the first stage are campaigning vigorously to win public support in the final week of the second round of online voting.

According to initial results, the Tainan Flowers Night Market, which operates only on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, has emerged as the most environmentally friendly and most visitor-friendly.

The oldest and most internationally renowned night market, the Shilin Night Market in Taipei, has emerged as the frontrunner in the most fascinating, easiest to shop at, and best food categories.

(Source: 8 August 2010)


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