Former Philippine beauty queens promote Taiwan tourism
Taipei, Jan. 18 (CNA) Former Philippine beauty queens Maggie Wilson and Parul Shah, who are currently in Taiwan shooting three short films to promote tourism in the country, said on Wednesday they were very impressed with the hospitality of local people, street food and easy access to tourist spots.
The duo, who have enjoyed much fame since last year winning "Amazing Race Asia," a reality game show based on the American series "The Amazing Race," said they felt that traveling in Taiwan was extremely safe.
The Internet celebrities were also not shy of trying stinky tofu, a renowned Taiwanese snack that people either love or hate, after encountering it at Keelung Night Market.
During their one-week stay, the former beauty queens made three films showcasing shopping, food and romance in Taiwan. Wilson and Shah said easy access to tourist locations was also a key feature of travel in Taiwan.
"What I love about it is that there are so many places to see and they are not far from each other," said Shah, who together with her partner has already visited Yangmingshan National Park, Taipei 101, Dongmen boutique/cafe area and Eslite Bookstore since their arrival on Jan. 15.
The 30-second-long promotional films will be available from Feb. 15 on channels including AXN Philippines, SONY and Animax Philippines, according to the campaign organizer, Tourism Bureau.
Tourism Bureau Deputy Director-General Wayne Liu said the project is in line with the government's "New Southbound Policy," which aims to enhance Taiwan's relations with countries in Southeast Asia, South Asia, Australia and New Zealand.
Liu described as "a positive development" the fall in Chinese visitors to about 35 percent of total tourists arriving in Taiwan last year, compared with 40 percent in 2014 and 2015."
On the other hand, the number of tourists from the Philippines rose to 168,000 last year, up 20 percent from 2015, said Liu, adding that the bureau is looking to attract at least 220,000 tourists from the Southeast Asian country in 2017.
The total number of tourists from Southeast Asia reached 1.55 million last year, an increase of 20 percent, though Liu said he hopes to push that up to 30 percent.
Kathy Yuan, a senior executive officer in the bureau's International Affairs Division, said the focus is on providing a simpler visa application process to citizen's from member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that do not already fall under Taiwan's visa-waiver programs -- including the Philippines, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. (Courtesy of CNA)