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Despite stalled growth in China, Brazil and Russia, a wave of newly middle-class travelers from the BRICs and beyond will start visiting international destinations in the coming decades — dwarfing the numbers we’ve seen thus far.
Taiwan’s move is great for tourists and should set a precedent for other countries looking to attract visitors. Look to other countries rolling out Wi-Fi service that enables visitors to check email or get basic information about the destination in their own language.
Taiwan became one of the first countries in the world to offer free wifi on a mass scale to its citizens, and now it is extending that to any foreign tourist, also for free, in a move that will gain it a lot of goodwill.
The Taiwan government-backed free “iTaiwan” wireless network launched in 2011, and now has about 4,400 hotspots in major tourist spots, transportation hubs, cultural establishments and government offices all over the island country. Citizens needed just their local phone number to register and then use the semi-fast 1 MBPS service.
Now, for foreign vistors, who generally have trouble getting a local SIM in the country (two forms of identity, etc), the process of tapping these wi-fi networks has been made a lot easier starting this month: visitors can open an iTaiwan account at a Taiwan Tourism Bureau counter/center, show their passport as ID and that’s it: they can login using their account, on their digital devices.
In addition, iTaiwan has established roaming agreements with four local governments so that tourists also have access in Taipei City, New Taipei, Taichung, and Tainan.