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Thursday,  June 13, 2024 12:40 AM 

Taking off with Taiwan Tourism & Travel Massive

Taking off with Taiwan Tourism & Travel Massive
(From left): Melissa Shearer and Cristina Cantarelli of Travel Massive with Thomas Chang, director - New York, Taiwan Tourism Bureau
Blake Wolfe

Blake Wolfe is an award-winning journalist and editor, who joined PAX after nearly 10 years in Canada’s newspaper industry. In addition to PAX, his work has been featured in publications such as the Metroland Media group of newspapers and the Toronto Sun.

More than 100 digital travel writers converged last night for a cocktail event and giveaway at Cambria Gallery, in the heart of Toronto’s King East design district. It was hosted by Taiwan Tourism and Travel Massive (which connects online media with tourism boards) and featured the launch of #TaiwanNowBoarding.

It was a frenzy of food and drinks, from meatballs and noodles in takeaway boxes (by Kanpai Restaurant) to bright purple bubble tea (by Chatime). It was also intensely competitive, as attendees vied for a free trip to Taiwan by posting to social media with #TaiwanNowBoarding. The hashtag was fairly literal as winners Michael Wong (who also won a tea set) and Ryan Woods had to be ready to take off shortly after 1 a.m. that very night with Eva Airways.

The rest of the attendees had plenty to be jealous of, as made clear by Thomas Chang of Taiwan Tourism and Victor Liu of Taipei’s Cultural Office, who showed off the beauty of the small island.

“There was a 15 per cent increase in travel to Taiwan from the Canadian market from last year,” they told us, pointing out that there are five weekly direct flights from Toronto to the capital Taipei (the trip is about 15 hours) and it’s a great jumping off point to visit other Asian countries. In fact they are calling Taiwan “the heart of Asia.” CNN included the island in its top 16 up-and-coming places to visit and National Geographic deemed it a top destination.

“It’s friendly, safe, and cosmopolitan,” they said, and “it’s got nature.” Even though it’s only 36,000 square kilometres, it has “one hundred mountains over 3000m high.” The Tropic of Cancer passes right through the island, resulting in a variety of climates, tropical, sub-tropical, and temperate, and tectonic movements have created rolling hills, basins, and coastlines with unique geological formations.

Other highlights include a 24-hour market, a lantern festival, and some epic cycling along the east coast, with the Pacific on one side, and mountains on the other. Cycling has been growing in popularity, with many new routes being developed, some suitable for whole families and others challenging enough for professional riders.

Liu spoke to PAX afterwards, saying that in his opinion Taiwan is “a top ten destination in your lifetime” because it has the most beautiful flowers, delicious food (ranging from traditional Taiwanese fare to Hunan cuisine and Sichuan dishes), it’s linked with state-of-the-art fibre optics, and you can take the fast train 90 minutes from the north of the island to the south. But maybe the best thing Taiwan has to offer is the friendliness of the people.

“In Taiwan,” he says, putting all this together, “it’s like travelling in poetry.”