Some of the most notable exhibitors at Hong Kong’s 2016 30th International Travel Exhibition, held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre from June 16th to June 18th, were found among the booths at the Taiwan Pavilion. Shining brightest among these highlights was the small, yet immensely eye-catching guidebook titled Explore Rural Taiwan at booth P101. Published by Taiwan’s Council of Agriculture’s Soil and Water Conservation Bureau (SWCB), the guidebook is a collection of 52 of the island’s most exciting travel routes across Taiwan’s rural landscapes. The routes were compiled as part of a long-term project carried out by the SWCB to revitalize the county’s rural and provincial areas. The guidebook is also the result of the joint efforts put in by local communities who came together to connect their 146 communities and 22 agricultural attractions. As a result, it includes a number of exclusive sites known only to the locals. It is hoped that the guidebook will help attract more visitors from Taiwan as well as the international community to explore these unique routes while experiencing the warmth exhibited by Taiwan’s welcoming people.
Explore Rural Taiwan made its international premiere at the event with the help of the Nantou HomeStay Tour Association. Hoping to interact with the international visitors on a deeper level, a “Travel with Me to Taiwan’s Lovely Rural Scenes” photo area was set up. While the guidebook was handed out to the public, visitors were also encouraged to download the Bravo! Rural Villages mobile app. These campaigns were greeted with much enthusiasm at the Hong Kong event.
ITE & MICE is not just Hong Kong’s only international travel exhibition; it is also one of Asia's most historic tourism events. In 2015, the event attracted 607 exhibitors from 50 countries, many of which were international firms. Statistics show that an estimated 85% of the exhibitors were from an overseas country, and over half of these countries were non-Asian nations. The first two days of the exhibition gave access to the trade community only. The number of buyers, business people and corporate representatives visiting the exhibition during the first two days totaled 11,874. Hong Kong represented 75% of the trade community while the remaining 25% came from China and the rest of the world. The industry makeup was: 52.2% (6,198) travel agencies; 21.3% exhibition sector and other enterprises; 7.6% tourism and media. The remaining one day saw 78,116 counts in public turnout. A questionnaire survey conducted during the fair revealed that over 85% of the respondents preferred self-service trips or private group travel packages.
The 2016 event also attracted the participation of more than 600 exhibitors from 50 countries. During the event, both the professional visitors and the general public expressed interest in the Rural Taiwan campaign. This year’s ITE & MICE also revealed an increased interest in theme-based, high-end travel packages among both corporate and self-servicing individual travelers. Some of these theme-based packages include cruise tours, self-drive tours, overseas study tours, sports meets, eco-tours, honeymoons, overseas weddings, photography excursions, as well as trips for health and medical purposes. Getting in line with the trend, Explore Rural Taiwan custom-designed agritourism events for visitors from urban areas such as Hong Kong, Macau and Singapore. In taking part in Hong Kong’s International Travel Exhibition, a seed for Taiwan’s rural tourism has been planted, and as the seed grows, so will the island’s rural tourism thrive on the international stage.