Misako Yasuko, a Hatai ethnic minority from Japan, promoted “Taiwan’s World Heritage Candidate Site” at a Taiwan market stall in Suginami District, Tokyo on the 4th. Before the epidemic, she went to Taiwan 4 or 5 times a year and other Japanese tourists who often traveled to Taiwan, said After the epidemic, I had no choice but to reduce visits to Taiwan: the depreciation of the yen, rising prices, and the optimization of Japan’s international tourism are all reasons.
The 72-year-old Ancun is currently a director of the Taiwan World Heritage Registration Support Association, a Japanese foundation, which is committed to promoting and supporting Taiwan’s scenic spots such as Alishan, Wushantou Reservoir, and Penghu Basalt to be registered as world heritage sites.
Before the COVID-19 epidemic, Ancun visited Taiwan many times a year, up to six times a year. Unable to visit Taiwan during the epidemic, she said in an interview with the media that she suffered from “Taiwan LOSS syndrome” (loss refers to loss, loss) and worked hard to find a cure.
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“I really want to go to Taiwan to meet my friends, but I’m really helpless,” Anmura said. When he visited Taiwan in July, the price of a hotel that cost 8,000 yen (approximately NT$1,720) for one night’s accommodation had doubled, and the service had deteriorated. After inquiring, she learned that the hotel owner had changed and the intimacy was gone. That stay left her feeling very disappointed.
She said that wages in Japan have not increased and prices are soaring. In addition, prices in Taiwan have also increased. It is difficult for Japanese people who want to visit Taiwan to find a balance. She used to visit Taiwan 4 or 5 times a year, but now she has to halve the number of visits and try to find cheaper or lower-end hotels.
Japanese people who often traveled to Taiwan in the past analyzed that due to the sharp depreciation of the yen, the price of travel to Taiwan for Japanese people is now 40% higher than before. However, Taiwanese people traveling to Japan are simply encountering Japan’s “bleeding auction” and benefiting from it.
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Not only has accommodation become more expensive, but air ticket prices have also become a pain for Ancun. She said that the ticket price for a round-trip ticket to Taiwan and Japan was originally 78,000 yen (approximately NT$17,000). Later, she heard that when buying a ticket, fuel fees, usage fees and other group fees are added, and the total is more than 100,000 yen ( Approximately NT$21,500).
Some Japanese media people believe that Japanese people’s fear of “something happening in Taiwan” (cross-strait conflict) is one of the reasons why foreign tourists dare not visit Taiwan. Anmura said that she is not affected by this at all, but will want to go to Taiwan and care about Taiwan even more.
She suggested that if hotel accommodation fees in Taiwan could be discounted by at least 20%, or coupons that could be used in hotels or attractions were issued to passengers arriving at Taiwan’s airports, it might increase Japanese people’s willingness to visit Taiwan.
Ancun is passionate about Taiwan because she and her daughter visited Taiwan for the first time more than 20 years ago and received help from Taiwanese people when they got lost in the mountains. She was deeply moved by the Taiwanese people’s kindness and deeds. She believed that this was a kind of kindness toward people that the Japanese had long forgotten.
Another woman in her 70s, Mitsuko Yoshizawa, lived in Taiwan for one and a half years with her husband more than 40 years ago. She is also from the Hatai ethnic group. She used to say that she wanted to “bury her bones in Taiwan” (to be buried in Taiwan after her death). Before the epidemic, she visited Taiwan at least four times a year, but this year she only visited Taiwan twice.
Yoshizawa believes that Taiwan should first prepare its tourism resources to welcome tourists. For example, the cityscape of Taipei has hardly changed. Although the buildings around the 101 Building are very high-end, the roads and other infrastructure in many places have not been improved and are not friendly to pedestrians. Her friend even sprained his foot while walking.
In addition, she and her Japanese friends also noticed that there are many plug-in air conditioners in Taipei City, which is quite dangerous. She wondered why the messy situation in Taiwan had not improved even though it was a treasure island.
However, Yoshizawa, who loves Taiwan deeply, continues to work hard to discover the charm of Taiwan. She said that she would like to visit Tainan and Kaohsiung more when she visits Taiwan in the future, such as taking a ferry to (Cijin) to taste seafood delicacies and experience Taiwanese characteristics and exotic tastes.
Yoshizawa, who has reduced his visits to Taiwan, plans to travel to Hokkaido this month. She believes that Japanese people now prefer international travel more and more, because the environment of many tourist attractions and hotels in Japan is getting better and better, and the prices are reasonable.
During the epidemic, Japan’s tourism industry suffered a severe blow, but some hotels took the opportunity to renovate or rebuild in order to facilitate business competition after the epidemic. Now many hotels give tourists the impression that their value for money is extremely high.
Last month, the reporter, a Taiwanese friend who has been living in Tokyo for a long time, and some friends from Taiwan went to Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture, Japan to enjoy the maple leaves. The hot spring hotel they stayed at cost more than 40,000 yen a night. They checked out and waited at the counter the next day. When the free shuttle bus arrived at the station, I found that 80% of the approximately 20 people in the lobby were Taiwanese.
From January to September this year, the number of tourists from Taiwan to Japan totaled 3 million 3,864, which has recovered to 80% of the same period in 2019; while the number of Japanese tourists to Taiwan totaled 587,864, which has only recovered to about 40%.
The Taiwan Tourism Association and the Tokyo Office of the Tourism Administration are trying their best to solve the problem of the imbalance in the number of mutual visits between Taiwan and Japan. In addition to the depreciation of the yen in the Japanese market, factors such as the late lifting of epidemic prevention regulations, the passport holding rate of Japanese people is only 17%, Taiwan-Japan flights and manpower have not yet resumed, and the promotion of international travel subsidies in Japan are all reasons for the reduction of Japanese tourists visiting Taiwan.
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