By Stephanie Chao, the Eye on Taiwan staff writer
Taiwan Tourism Bureau has cooperated with two local firms to launch a live over-the-phone interpretation service that can act as a personal travel concierge and translator for foreign tourists.
The service, to be launched next month, will offer telephonic in-person mandarin Chinese interpretations for tourists from Japan and South Korea who do not speak and read Chinese, bureau officials said.
Under the service, on-call live interpreters rather than machine interpretations or computer-assisted interpretations will be available to answer all tourism-related questions from the callers, from 9 am to 9 pm, the officials said.
A tourist using the service can also ask for help from the live interpreters for hotel and restaurant reservations, or problems including loss of belongings and directions, accidents, and medical attention, or even seek help from police through the interpreters, the officials said.
The service, which comes in both video-call and audio-call format, involves subscribing a high-speed 4G+ internet plan provided by the Chunghwa Telecom (中華電信) and downloading a live over-the-phone interpretation app “TourTalk” developed by Tour Talk Technology Co. (譯遊科技), they noted.
The platform currently only comes in Mandarin Chinese to Japanese and Korean interpretations, as Taiwan remains as a popular tourist destination for these two countries, the officials said. However, the service providers plan to roll out more languages, including English which is expected to be launched at the end of April.
Tourism Bureau Information Management Office head Yeh Wen-chien said more information will be announced on the Tourism Bureau’s website soon.
The bureau hopes to launch the service in time for Japan’s busiest holiday period “Golden Week,” which lasts from April 28 to May 6 this year, local media reported.
Tourists can purchase the package at the Chunghwa service booth at the airports, the app’s manager director Chen Yong-jie said.
With the exception of SIM telephone card fees, real-person interaction packages are priced at NT$888 for 10 days, NT$688 for 7 days and NT$588 for 5 days.
TourTalk Technology Co. General Manager Jimmy Yu said travelers can purchase an official account with the Web-based service and start using the service two months before arrival and one month after arrival.
He said the service works both ways, meaning Taiwanese tourists who do not speak or read Japanese or Korean can seek help from live interpreters in Japan and South Korea.