Diving in Taiwan: An Answer for the Tourism Industry?

Diving in Taiwan: An Answer for the Tourism Industry?
Photo Credit: SNORKELINGDIVES.COM @ Flickr CC By 2.0

What you need to know

Could diving give a much-needed boost to Taiwan's tourism industry?

The Diving Resort Travel (DRT) Show Taiwan 2016 held in Taipei in June exhibited diving businesses from Southeast Asian countries, such as Indonesia and the Philippines, and has led Taiwan to rethink its strengths in the diving industry.

Wang Cin-jie (王勤介), director of Sea Angel (台灣山海天使環境保育協會), a Taiwanese NGO promoting environmental protection, says Taiwan has several advantages in the diving market.

Green Island, Orchid Island (Lanyu), Kenting, Xiaoliuqiu (Lamay Island) and even the Northeast Coast National Scenic Area all have abundant resources for diving activities. However, there are currently no government authorities helping to develop the diving industry in Taiwan, reporter Wang Yuan-hung (王元鴻) wrote in the Chinese-language Liberty Times.

Wang calls for more specific environmental policies from the government, saying that excessive fishing and contamination in diving areas have prevented the growth of Taiwan’s diving industry. He estimates an output value of NT$4 billion (US$127 million) for Green Island if ecological restoration were carried out and transportation conditions improved.

Brad Chen (陳鴻儒), founder of Deepblu, a company developing tech-products for divers, says that in Southeast Asian countries, related activities such as underwater photography competitions are held to promote tourism. He adds that the annual economic benefits of the diving industry in Sabah, Malaysia, surpass NT$40 billion.

Chen says Taiwanese people often fail to recognize the potential economic benefits that nature offers and tend to damage the environment.

Potential market in Chinese tourists?

A diving center in Kenting interviewed by News Market says their staff grew from three to 30 people within four years, with their customers increasing from 500 in 2011 to 8,000 in 2015. Employees at the center say the largest increase in business occurred in 2012, when they started to promote online in China.

The center launched diving lessons last year to attract more Chinese tourists and generated more than NT$5 million. Staff at the center estimate there is a potential market for the diving industry among Chinese tourists that could be as much as three times bigger than it is currently.

However, due to various factors the industry now faces difficulties, with fewer tourist arrivals from China.

“Many Chinese independent travelers told me they have trouble getting visas,” says the owner of the center, adding that it is essential that Kenting better associate its image with diving to attract more visitors.

Sun Chih-kuo (孫治國), marketing director of the Professional Association for Diving Instructors’ (PADI) Asia Pacific branch, says diving businesses in Taiwan should not cut their prices to attract customers. They should instead boost the quality of their services, since most tourists interested in diving are more financially privileged than others.

First Editor: Olivia Yang
Second Editor: J. Michael Cole