Michael Wu of Taiwan went to study in the United States at age 15 and stayed long enough to realize many Americans don’t know much about his homeland. He figured Taiwan needed better branding, an idea that spawned his own travel agency.
“I hope one day in the near future I could see many Europeans and Americans travelling around Taipei City or the whole Taiwan,” Wu told BusinessNext. “I hope many foreign travellers would be willing to open their wallets to buy (air) tickets, just like how people are eager to go to France.”
Wu founded MyTaiwanTour in 2013 and is now CEO. The travel service customizes packages, often single-day tours, for groups of varying sizes mainly from Europe and the United States. Guides working with the agency arrange hotels, ground transit and food.
MyTaiwanTour got a boost when it secured NT$45 million (US$1.5 million) in investment from the Sanpu Travel Group.
MyTaiwanTour has served more than 35,000 foreign visitors from at least 70 countries. Despite Wu’s goal of bringing in more Westerners, many of this clients come from Asian countries such as Japan, South Korea and parts of Southeast Asia.
One laurel for the travel agency came in 2017 when the Taipei Summer Universiade authorized it to customize the schedules of foreign athletes during their staying in the Taiwanese capital.
To help brand Taiwan overseas, MyTaiwanTour also established Taiwan Scene, an introduction in English to the island’s lifestyle and destinations. Wu invited Joshua Brown, a Lonely Planet guide writer, to be the editor and apply his perspective as a foreigner, Wu said.
“We have to do our utmost efforts to do the branding for Taiwan,” the founder said. “Therefore, first of all, English contents about this island play a pivotal role as a bridge for Taiwan to the rest of the world. Actually, running the English content is not a lucrative path, but I still insist on doing it since this is the first communication tool for foreigners to understand what exactly Taiwan possesses, and why they have to come.”
Wu hopes the Taiwan government will see the importance of education in spoken English. Last year the cabinet indicated it would research ways to make English a second official language, along with Chinese.
“English still plays the vital role for communication among the different nationalities,” Wu said. “Therefore, education in spoken English is indeed is important, especially if the government wishes to promote Taiwan or do branding for Taiwan.”