Taiwan promotes tourism at Orchid Expo

The 61st Pacific Orchid Exposition, the largest orchid show in the United States, kicked off this year with a Gala Benefit Preview on February 21. The exclusive preview gave orchid collectors and enthusiasts an opportunity to see this year’s winning orchids, bid in silent auctions, sip wine from over 20 top Northern Californian wineries and, more importantly, allow them first pick of the orchids on sale. Organized by the San Francisco Orchid Society, Taiwan was mentioned often throughout the evening.

Since the island is the world’s largest orchid exporter, the opportunity allowed Taiwan to promote its tourism campaign, designed to entice visitors to visit Taiwan and see its renowned orchids. Plenty of tourist information about Taiwan was available at the booth centrally located close to the competing orchids.

In 2003, Taiwan established the Taiwan Orchid Plantation (TOP), a research and orchid breeding center. Since then, Taiwan’s orchids have gained a reputation for their first class quality and beauty internationally. Today, the island’s orchid exports generate more than US$110 million annually.

As guests previewed the displays and enjoyed the delicious hors d’oeuvres at the gala, Liam Mayclem, the Emmy award-winning host of CBS-5’s “Eye on the Bay”, welcomed them.  He shared with the audience the exciting news that he was getting on a plane for Taiwan that night, and encouraged the audience to visit the island as well.

Mayclem then introduced Bruce Fuh, the director- general of of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in San Francisco. Fuh told the audience that since Taiwan is famous for its orchids, his office was glad to be a part of the expo. He also explained how easy it is to visit the island given Taiwan’s entry into the United States’ Visa Waiver Program. The program allows visa-free entry for Americans visiting Taiwan and for Republic of China passport holders to enter the US for a stay of less than 90 days without requiring a visa. Moreover, United Airlines will open daily flights from San Francisco to Taipei soon, making a trip to Taiwan even more convenient.

Among the other honored guests present was the first lady of San Francisco, Anita Lee, who wished the crowd peace and prosperity on behalf of Mayor Lee and herself. The mayor’s wife then spoke of San Francisco’s special Sister City relations with Taipei. California State Senator Leland Yee also attended the gala and took a moment to tell the audience about Taiwan’s beautiful scenery. He particularly mentioned Tainan in southern Taiwan, where many of the orchids are grown.

The gala raised money to further promote the San Francisco Orchid Society’s mission of educating its members and the public about orchids. The expo continued from February 21 to the 24 with over 155,000 stunning orchids on display at Fort Mason Center’s Pavilion in San Francisco.

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