Working holiday popularity lackluster
By Joseph Yeh ,The China Post
April 30, 2014, 12:01 am TWN
TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Only a total of 2,500 foreigners, nearly half of them Japanese, have taken advantage of the working holiday program to visit Taiwan so far, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday.
The government has signed reciprocal working holiday agreements with 10 countries since 2004, including Germany, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Belgium, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Canada, South Korea and Hungary.
According to MOFA, a total of 120,000 locals aged between 18 and 35 have taken advantage of the program since 2004.
However, very few foreigners have visited Taiwan under the two-way pacts, according to the Foreign Ministry's statistics.
MOFA figures released yesterday indicated that so far only 2,500 foreigners have taken advantage of the agreements. Of that number, 1,200 were Japanese.
MOFA spokeswoman Anna Kao (高安) explained yesterday that the reason for this is that the average salary in Taiwan is relatively low compared to other countries and does not serve as enough of an incentive to young travelers.
The 10 countries that have signed an agreement with Taiwan have similar agreements with other countries.
Australia, for instance, Taiwan's No.1 destination for working holidays with over 35,000 Taiwanese visiting the country under the scheme last year, has signed similar pacts with 29 other countries.
Because of language barriers, a majority of Australians choose to travel to English-speaking partner countries instead of Taiwan, she said.
According to MOFA's numbers, only 13 Australians visited Taiwan under the program in 2013.
As a way of attracting foreigners, Taiwan will continue to promote itself as a good place to learn Mandarin, Kao added.