by Natalie Joy Lee | March 10, 2020
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TaiNEX 2 adds a further 156,700sqm of exhibition space.


Already a powerhouse for trade and commerce-related MICE activity, Taiwan has grown more attractive lately, thanks to new infrastructure and visa policies - the latter including the New Southbound waiver that led to an approximate 12% surge in visitors from Southeast Asia, in particular Vietnam and The Philippines.

In 2019, significant growth came also from South Korea, North America and Japan, where Taiwan rolled out incentives such as charter flight subsidies and bolstered its presence at travel expos in the region.

Furthermore, Taipei entered ICCA's Top 20 Most Popular Meetings Destinations for the first time in 2018, hosting 686 events which clocked about US$1.48 billion in trade revenue. A big part goes to the capital's wide array of strong MICE infrastructure that offer capacity, form and function.

Delegates' top choice remains the Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center. Hall 2 (TaiNEX 2) lays claim to Taiwan's first Golden-Level Green Building Label, while its 156,700sqm space brings the total capacity of TaiNEX (Halls 1 and 2) to 5,000 standard booths and 38 meeting rooms - making the venue the largest in the country. At the rooftop is the newest Skylight Convention Center, offering Taiwan's largest column-free space with 14 meeting rooms or 3,200 people.

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Bring events into this former wine factory, Huashan 1914 Creative Park.

Alternatively, the Taipei International Convention Center boasts a column-free Plenary Hall built across four floors to fit 3,122 people. The venue has played host to Bill Gates, Bill Clinton and Elton John, to name a few. Or add a dash of unique at former wine factory, Huashan 1914 Creative Park, offering 6,500sqm of exhibition space. Companies who have held events here include TED, Google and Sony.

Hoteliers are well aware of Taipei's business allure. Benjamin Liao, chairman of the Forte Hotel Group noted that Taipei has successfully held world-class exhibitions. For delegates who desire a business hotel in a vibrant neighbourhood, the Group's flagship Howard Plaza is it.

The grand dame is 45-minutes from Taoyuan International Airport, 15-minutes to the Taipei World Trade Center, and a five-minute walk to Da'an station, which connects to attractions like the Taipei Arena and shopping district Ximending. The 606-room business hotel offers a 700-seater Grand Ballroom or cosier 12 meeting rooms. Affectionately dubbed 'Taipei's kitchen', this vibrant district houses old-school-eateries to hipster cafes, making a wonderful side trip after work ends.

Increasing international links
Despite a general slowdown in passenger growth worldwide, Taiwan's Taoyuan International Airport (TIAC) has pressed on in growing its international links. This year, Vietjet launched their four flights weekly Can Tho to Taipei route, while Taiwan's newly established StarLux Airlines made its maiden flight on Jan 23, on routes bound for Penang, Da Nang and Macau.

According to TIAC, passenger traffic grew 3.7% to hit nearly 45 million in 2018, attributed not only to new flight links but also the government's New Southbound Policy, targeted at enhancing exchanges with 18 APAC countries. In 2019, visitor numbers from countries connected through the Policy went up 6%.

Already operating above its threshold of 37 million passengers - numbers reached 46.5 million at TIAC in 2019 - plans to open a third terminal in 2024 are amongst its top priorities, and possibly a satellite terminal to complement the existing main terminal.

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Overlooking Taipei city and Yangmingshan is Eslite Hotel's 16th floor penthouse, which can host 110 guests in theatre setting.

Unique fits for every MICE group
As a further sign of its burgeoning international appeal, Taipei is flush with luxury hotelier names and beachfront resorts.

The Resonance Taipei under the Tapestry Collection by Hilton will open this year; Hotel Metropolitan Premier Taipei's 2021 launch is Tokyo-based railway operator JR East's first hotel outside Japan; while Taipei Fullerton Hotel East announced its groundbreaking move to join forces with Hyatt Hotels, the new lifestyle brand slated for a 2024 completion.

When it comes to unique venues, Taipei has mastered the art. Taipei Expo Park offers the world's first PET bottle green building, fascinating indigenous cultural centre, and Maji Square: a lifestyle and F&B zone consisting of cargo containers and wooden barns.

Cosier groups can choose Songshan Culture Park, a 1930s tobacco factory repurposed into today's exhibitions venue and home to the Taiwan Design Museum. Book beds next door at the 104-key Eslite Hotel. Its 16th floor penthouse offers dizzying city and Yangmingshan views, and a theatre setting for 110 guests. Downstairs, a performance hall accommodates 361 people.

If budget allows, Grand Hotel Taipei - decked in striking oriental architecture and Taiwan's first five-star hotel - offers 500 recently refurbished rooms. Three floors of meetings space ranging from 65sqm to 1,949sqm, a Halal certification, and close proximity to the Taipei Expo Park makes the historical hotel a choice pick.

Taipei Marriott Hotel stands out with its unbeatable room views overlooking the Songshan Airport and city skyline. Available for meetings are 18 venues - nearly all were in use or being turned over at our visit - spanning 4,569sqm. Panorama Ballroom on level 36 offers Taipei city views over meetings, the 5,382sqm Garden Villa has an additional alfresco chapel for use, while LED projectors provide the clearest resolutions, perfect for medical conferences.

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Sip on tea that has been refined the traditional way at WangTea Shop.

Cultural creativity
On every visitor's must-go lists, the National Palace Museum is considered Taiwan's pride, home to Chinese antiquities, paintings and calligraphy, rare books and historical documents moved to Taiwan from Beijing after the Chinese Civil War. Expect modern ways of exploration via brochures, e-trails and audio hand-held devices, updated as permanent exhibitions go on rotation once three-monthly in order to showcase its vast collections.

Next, head to Dadaocheng in the west. Stroll along its main artery Dihua Street, teeming with ancient teahouses, fabric shops, artsy boutiques, street eats and, for a unique activity, head to WangTea Shop. Over a century old, 34-year-old fifth generation successor, Sheng Juin Wang still insists on the traditional tea leaf refining process in a roasting room.

Wind down a business day while interacting with Taiwan's unique offerings at i-Ride Taipei. Located at Breeze Nan Shan Department Store in the bustling Xinyi district, enter a dimension hitting your visual, auditory, tactile and even olfactory senses as the immersive 5D Flying Theater soars through 16 iconic sights across Taiwan in amazingly true-to-life imagery.