Competition in Asia's cruise shipping sector is white-hot, and taking note of its continued high potential for growth, the Taipei City Government's Department of Information and Tourism sent a team to Singapore to participate in the Cruise Shipping Asia-Pacific 2012 exhibition, being staged at the Marina Bay Cruise Centre Sept. 17 and 18.

The team introduced a half-day Taipei tour specially designed for cruise passengers. The theme is "Taipei Tastes Great" -- the goodwill team is introducing Taipei's wonderful food both at the exhibition site and on the streets of Singapore, with attractive models parading with equally alluring headdresses shaped realistically like iconic Taipei culinary treats.

With the rise of Asia's cruise market, the European and American markets have experienced a gradual shift over to this region. According to the Cruise Lines International Association, by 2020 the global number of cruise passengers will reach 30 million. The Asia cruise market is currently the world's most flourishing source of travelers, and it is expected that by 2015 the number of Asia cruise passengers will reach 7 million. International cruise enterprises have set their sights on the business opportunities presented in the Asia market and in the cross-Taiwan Strait cruise market, and are energetically pursuing development initiatives.

 If Taipei is included in what has been called the "golden sea area" (China/Hong Kong/Taiwan), large cruise liners can dock at nearby Keelung Harbor, bringing the city a substantial stream of high-consumption foreign tourists. According to the Port of Keelung (Taiwan International Ports Corp., Ltd.), in 2011 Keelung Harbor received approximately 460,000 cruise passengers, a record high, up 2.6% over 2010. It is anticipated that after international cruise navigation rules between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait are relaxed, the number of arriving cruise passengers will surge dramatically.

In order to gain better understanding of the potential of the cruise industry sector, DOIT conducted a research survey on the cruise-industry enterprises attending Cruise Shipping Asia-Pacific 2012 prior to the event.

According to DOIT Deputy Commissioner Chiu Peng-Hsin, the two sides of the Taiwan Strait enjoy first-rate development conditions, situated at the intersection point between Northeast Asia and Southeast Asia and equipped with premium harbor facilities. Though Taipei does not have its own tourist port, transportation access is quick and convenient, the city is home to many unique tourist attractions, and the people are famously warm-hearted, making it one of the strongest and most popular choices for onshore excursions in Asia's cruise market. 

Though cruise liners dock at Keelung Harbor, about 90 percent proceed on to Taipei for sightseeing. Outings are arranged by the cruise line or by travel firms. Most are one-day or half-day excursions. DOIT has therefore designed a series of classic-theme half-day outings targeted at cruise passengers, among them one tour centered on the area surrounding Taipei Railway Station, another centered on the Taipei 101 tower.

In addition, targeting the high degree of interest in Eastern culture on the part of Western travelers, the unique Oriental feast @ Taipei tour has been created, introducing visitors to the National Palace Museum, Longshan Temple, and the city's fine-food delicacies.

DOIT's exhibition team has been organized as a special "Taipei Tastes Great" goodwill mission. In a vibrant display of the Taipei zest for living, at the Marina Bay Cruise Centre models decked out in colorful costumes and in eye-riveting headdresses created in the shapes of some of Taipei's most famous foods, including beef noodles, pearl milk tea, soy-braised pork rice, and mango ice, drew the attention of Singapore folk, causing many to grab their cameras. The Taipei team gave away free samples of Taipei's specialty teas and pineapples cakes, and introducing the city's sightseeing attractions, again drawing strong interest.

As part of its effort to attract more cruise-tour travelers to Taiwan, since 2010 the Taipei City Government has been presenting cruise-tourism travelers with special welcome gifts, such as admission tickets to the National Palace Museum. In addition, to encourage cruise and MICE (Meetings, Incentive Travel, Conferences, Exhibitions) industry enterprises to choose Taipei, DOIT has set up a program of preferential incentives, with sponsorship support equivalent to NT$1 million available.