2109946525.8dd5717.6a542383a5124149b61e5d31c0beca81

Something Very Wrong Is Happening at Taiwan Tourism Bureau

Read the Chinese version here.

Hey, quick question! Do you think Taiwan’s government-run social media efforts should be this amateur, unprofessional and embarrassing?

taiwan tourism social media

From April 16, 2018

Above is a screenshot from @triptotaiwan, an official Taiwan Tourism Bureau Twitter account. The post has since been deleted on Twitter but the same version is still on Instagram here. [Update: they’ve deleted the post.]

Is it too much to ask that the person representing Taiwan on social media run a simple spellcheck before posting about Kavalan? The word “whisky” is right there in the image.

taiwan tourism social media

From April 6, 2018

Or perhaps the person could ask themselves, does this topic make Taiwan shine? Or does it make Hong Kong shine? Or Japan shine?

taiwan tourism social media

From April 11, 2018

taiwan tourism social media

From March 13, 2018

taiwan tourism social media

From March 3, 2018

This one below is particularly frustrating. First, it uses a terrible photo from the Taipei location of the Singapore restaurant chain Paradise Dynasty. (Could not even be bothered to find a photo from Din Tai Fung, huh?) And those exasperating typos: “desert” and “ziao long baos”. The Twitter version has already been deleted but the Instagram version is still online here. [Update: they’ve also deleted this post.]

Also note the lack of photo credits in all of these posts except in the case of the Arashiyama one.

From April 17, 2018

And with all the possible topics the Taiwan Tourism Bureau could be sharing to promote Taiwan on social media, do you think these are suitable? Or are they completely tasteless and ridiculous?

From March 29, 2018

From March 10, 2018

Gosh, what about just putting any effort at all into writing a caption because that’s your job?

From March 14, 2018

Or fact-checking before posting? Jiufen was not the inspiration behind Spirited Away. Here’s a clip of Miyazaki saying so on Taiwan’s TVBS news.

From January 16, 2018

The shortlink on all these posts goes to the same website — taiwantourism.guide — which promotes a long-running competition for a free round-trip ticket from NYC to Taipei.

Yesterday I just couldn’t take it anymore. I shared a few of the most humiliating posts from @triptotaiwan on Facebook. A few hours later, this happened:

What a mature response from a government-run account. Especially when they seemed so receptive to feedback back in December 2017:

Aren’t they basically confirming they were told to cut and paste from their travel website?!

But let’s step away from the @triptotaiwan account for the moment…

Poking around online, I found 7 other official government-run Instagram accounts representing the various overseas offices of the Taiwan Tourism Bureau. The Bureau runs 13 overseas branch offices in total. You can see the official organizational chart here.



Some of the accounts are pretty much neglected. For instance, the LA office account has only posted 5 times since April 2016, and the Singapore account 38 times since March 2016. I guess it’s not that big of a deal when the LA office account only has 178 followers and the Singapore account has just 672.

The only account with a significant follower count is the notorious @triptotaiwan with 13.4K. (Oh, great.) Next is the India account with 5,968.

To compare, @indtravel is the official account of Indonesia’s Ministry of Tourism and it has 484K followers. Visit Japan has various regional accounts but its main international account @visitjapanjp has 106K followers. Finally, the @imagineyourkorea account by the Korea Tourism Organization has 60.8K followers.

Here’s something funny: Taiwan Tourism Bureau’s Australia and New Zealand Instagram account has a measly 360 followers but it’s run by a media agency in Singapore called NewBase Content.

How do I know? They tag themselves in the every single Instagram and FB post! See the last hashtag on this Instagram post here:

I guess this work was part of a bigger campaign for the Australia and NZ office under the slogan, “So different! So Taiwan!” This is the 2017 case study from the NewBase archives.

And here’s an embarrassing story about NewBase: Yesterday I messaged with a freelance blogger/marketer who worked with the NewBase team in mid-2017 on the Taiwan account. She said:

“I had to write simple copy for them as suggestions for Facebook and Twitter. They gave me topics. I only wrote two copy for each. If they were happy with it and published then I got paid per topic. I haven’t worked for them for a long time since they seemed to not have any idea. They even asked me to find photos for them! I gave them a lot of pointers. They honestly don’t know much because they even asked me what I use to schedule social media posts…”

But someone at the Taiwan Tourism Bureau must be satisfied with their work. It looks like NewBase Content is getting paid for two more “major campaigns” in 2018. Press release here.

Finally let’s get back to @triptotaiwan and the taiwantourism.guide website. It looks like Taiwan Tourism Bureau hired an agency in New York called The Tiger Party. The agency is owned by a Taiwanese guy named Rafale Chang.

The Tiger Party produced this Times Square billboard campaign that was essentially a giant FaceTime between Times Square and Taipei despite there being a 12-hour time difference between the two cities which meant the live feed on the Taipei side happened at midnight.

I’m curious how they measured the success of this campaign against all the government funds invested. How many people actually participated on the New York side who weren’t affiliated with The Tiger Party or Taiwan Tourism? (I’m guessing there were exactly zero casual passersby who happened to wave into the camera at midnight in Taipei.)



The Tiger Party was also paid to create the taiwantourism.guide website. It’s yet another unimpressive and unoriginal government-paid travel website to throw onto the heaping pile of Taiwan government-paid travel websites. By the way, we know The Tiger Party built the site because the whois search on the domain is registered to them. They didn’t transfer ownership to Taiwan Tourism Bureau.

The funny thing is I know of one instance where The Tiger Party turned down professional help. I also know of an instance where they approached a blogger specifically about their Taiwan Tourism project…then never responded to her reply.

This complete disinterest in content strategy by everyone involved with Taiwan Tourism (employees and vendors included) is probably why poor Taiwan has so many slogans, websites, social media accounts and useless but flashy advertising campaigns.

So my big questions for the Taiwan Tourism Bureau…

  • When was the last time (or first time!) you audited your marketing strategy?
  • What’s the vetting process for your vendors? Who writes the Requests For Proposals (RFPs)?
  • Are there content guidelines in place for marketing and social media posts for the overseas offices?
  • Who decides the people managing and creating content for the official social media accounts?
  • Seriously, who’s behind the @triptotaiwan account? Is it okay for this account to block followers?
  • Finally, how much will you be spending this year to make Taiwan look so bad?

Here’s Part 2 about the work overseen by the Taiwan Tourism overseas branch in Frankfurt.

Update: Since this article was originally posted on April 18, the @triptotaiwan editor has changed and the posts included below have been deleted on Twitter and Instagram.

Top image: Taiwan Tourism Bureau graphic by Winkreative



Comments (15):

  1. Disappointed

    April 19, 2018 at 06:30

    Marketing strategy? Are there any marketing strategists in all of Taiwan? Sometimes it feels like the important thing in Taiwan is to appear busy, rather than focus on outcomes.

    Reply
    • sell out

      April 20, 2018 at 00:08

      the MoC account is very respectable. The woman in charge of it has been doing a fantastic job for years.

      Agreed, thats a cow on a pig farm, but, credit where credit is due.

      Reply
      • Joshua Brown

        April 20, 2018 at 10:17

        Absolutely agree with Sell Out’s comment on the MoC account. They are doing a great job, so excellent to see them being given their due.

        As for the rest of this post, excellent reportage and investigative journalism overall!

        Reply
  2. Redactrice

    April 19, 2018 at 14:07

    Excellent reporting and insight! After 30 years in Hawaii, I’ve seen a lot of similar criticisms of the Hawaii Visitors Board — lack of funding oversight, questionable messages, unclear results. But at least their English is solid and their production is professional — not true here. The problem is corruption and utter lack of insight into convincing and fresh messages that might induce people to visit: only stereotypes and cliches ring true to those with no ear for English. A foreign friend who bid to help Taiwan tourism tried to discourage them from the meaningless-beyond-Taiwan “Naruwan” campaign and was slapped down. Results are secondary or even obscured — if it pleases the boss, the job is done.

    Reply
    • Larry

      April 20, 2018 at 10:28

      “We hope the slogan will become like `Aloha’ in Hawaii, becoming a word that Taiwanese people welcome foreigners with,” he said, adding that although Taiwanese people don’t often say Naruwan, the word would now be used frequently at tourist spots and performance venues.

      What a joke! http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/feat/archives/2004/02/15/2003098895

      Reply
  3. Monica

    April 19, 2018 at 21:46

    The majority of that Twitter account’s followers almost certainly came for the contest (free trip!) so the firm probably didn’t ruin Taiwan’s image for too many people…

    Reply
  4. Stafford Tipton

    April 19, 2018 at 22:26

    Superb! Nothing more needs to be said.

    Reply
  5. Jonathan Biddle

    April 20, 2018 at 04:23

    Also worth noting: the treatment used in the heart shape cartoon design at the top of the post was done by Tyler Brulé’s Winkreative group out of Switzerland (https://www.underconsideration.com/brandnew/archives/taiwan_a_heartfelt_destination.php). When this rolled out it was in stark contrast to the tone-deaf “Let’s Be Friends” campaign (and I think another one as well) that Ran concurrently. Completely disjointed and uncoordinated, which does Taiwan no favours.

    Reply
  6. J Steed

    April 20, 2018 at 04:45

    Ha. The Tourism Bureau is a joke. When I made my cartoon map of Taipei City years ago and was looking for a distribution, the fuzzy brained old official there was pretending to look at it and to be interested as we sat looking down at greater Taipei. He got a phone call. While he was answering the call, I turned the map over to the special districts map, which also included a cartoon description of how to use the green and red mailboxes. (No email back then.) When he returned, he looked down through his glazed over eyes at the map and continued rambling nonsense (“You English teachers make lots of money in Taiwan, etc). He hadn’t even noticed he was looking at a very different side of the map. He ended by saying “we already have a map “, though it was a rather lame and useless and uninspiring Taipei map with very little information. I gave my map to Caves Books to sell instead. They did very well with it, and won a lot of praise for it. The Tourism Bureau is a waste of money and should be shut down. Useless, uninsighful. A waste of tax payers’ money.

    Reply
  7. Todd

    April 20, 2018 at 05:11

    So true! They also don’t support local bloggers and sponsored a bunch of international influencers that had fake influence. Get it together tourism board.

    Reply
  8. Jimbo

    April 20, 2018 at 17:37

    Well, I’m sure English teachers in Taiwan are feeling a little more secure in their jobs after reading this.
    Actually, the type of mistakes made pretty well represent the level, on average, of the English abilities in Taiwan. So, I find no problem with them…. I’m numb to it now.

    Reply
  9. Ingrid Lin

    May 1, 2018 at 22:45

    I completely agree with your article. I live in Taipei, am Taiwanese-Global Citizen, nutrition major and quite good at seeing things with an international lens. I am planning to do something about the embarrassment Taiwan Bureau is doing. If you have any ideas or want to join me in this project, please feel free to email (IngridLin1231@gmail.com) me.

    Reply
  10. Jau-Yon Chen

    September 23, 2018 at 11:53

    To further and to best promote Taiwan, I have made a six-minute unofficial video to attract more tourists to visit our beautiful island. The YouTube link is typed in the website section. I believe it is better than the ones made by the Taiwan Tourism Bureau because of its comprehensiveness and most up to date information. Most of all, the video is presented from a Pro-Taiwan perspective, a hundred percent. Instead of showing the National Palace Museum and CKS Memorial (shown in all official Taiwan promotional videos), mine’s showcases National Taiwan and Taipei Fine Arts Museums, the 24 Hour Eslite Bookstore in Taipei. Fort San Domingo in Danshui, the British Consulate in Kaohsiung, and Su-Ao Cold Springs. I have also highlighted aboriginal culture, the music & movie industry, and sports in my video to emphasize Taiwan’s diversity and uniqueness. Hope all viewers will find it informative!

    Reply
  11. Manuel

    October 7, 2018 at 17:33

    Why not use just one website visitTaiwan.com ?

    Reply

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