Kaohsiung may not match Taipei’s flash and pomp as a business events destination, but the southern Taiwanese city is slowly coming to the fore as a serious contender. And proof is in its recent win to host the 2020 International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) World Congress in its first bid attempt.
The harbour city’s most important meetings facility is the Kaohsiung Exhibition Centre (KEC), which was launched in 2014 and has since tried to bring in more international events. The overall occupancy for the centre is well over 30% this year, which is decent for a fairly new venue, says Robert Campbell, EVP for Interplan, the agency that manages KEC.
Campbell adds that the centre compliments Kaohsiung’s adequate infrastructure and over 10,000 hotel rooms. One of the reasons the city pulls in domestic business is its relatively cheaper costs compared to Taipei, which Campbell estimates to be a difference of 20-30%.
“While the majority of business is domestic, we are trying to bring in international events,” he says. “The international airport has connections to 40 Asian cities. Taipei is still the bigger airport, but we have the high-speed rail which will take you to Kaohsiung within 1.5 hours. Often we’ll just go down for the day [from Taipei] and have meetings all day long.”
Nature in the city
Because of its position as a commercial port, there are plenty of water activities for delegates to partake in such as fishing expeditions and sailing. More marinas are also being developed along the water, each with their own yacht wharf.
But perhaps the best thing about the city is its proximity to many quiet nature spots such as the Yellow Butterfly Valley in the Mino district. “The area provides sufficient food and growth space for the larvae of yellow butterflies,” says Samuel Lin, meetings and events promotion manager for Kaohsiung City Government. “This means a large number of yellow butterflies appear in the Valley every year.”
Don’t forget the Moon World in Tianliao District, which attracts many visitors for its picturesque badlands. There’s also the Siaogangshan Skywalk Park in Gangshan district where visitors can cop a bird’s-eye view of the Agongdian Reservoir, the Agongdian Forest Park, and the Agongdian River and its nearby plains.
One of the perks of Kaohsiung is its celebration of both the Aboriginal and Hakka cultures that provide a diverse range of food for visitors. “[Some notable restaurants are] Din Tai Fung, famous for its xiao long bao; Tian Shui Yue Hot Pot with its impressive Buddha statue at the end of a waterway right in the middle of the restaurant; and Old New Taiwanese Cuisine for innovative local dishes,” says Lin.
Because of Taiwan’s recently implemented New Southbound Policy to encourage better relationships between Taiwan and Southeast Asia, more halal restaurants are popping up in the city, widening options for Muslim travellers.