During a four day visit to Taiwan, Chris Lehane, Head of Global Policy and Communications at Airbnb, the world’s leading community-driven hospitality company, was deeply impressed by Taiwan’s culture and culinary traditions. Lehane expressed his desire to introduce and share the beauty of Taiwan with the world and the wider global community.
Early in the morning, Lehane explored Taipei by riding city-sponsored YouBikes and met with Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-Jen to discuss the future and the evolution of the new sharing economy. Modern sharing economy programs such as YouBikes are not only convenient, but they also improve the very fabric of society by creating and strengthening new social bonds. Lehane experienced the warm hospitality of Taipei first hand through several Airbnb enthusiasts who introduced Taipei on YouBikes. Lehane believes that Taiwan has several vital elements necessary for a vibrant tourism economy such as mild weather, convenient transportation, well-developed infrastructure and most importantly Taiwan is home to a cordial and generous people.
Lehane also stayed in Hsinchu and checked in at the Er Chiuan minsu. Guided by Mr. Gu Wu-Nan, head of a cultural studio in Beipu, Hsinchu, Lehane wandered through mysterious alleys and visited historical Hakka settlements to include Jin Guang Fu, Jiang’s Western Building and the Shiu Jing Teahouse. At the Shiu Jing Teahouse, Lehane was moved by the craftsmanship of wood furnitures, as it seemed to preserve and echo bygone traditions despite the hectic pace of our impatient modern world.
Hakka culture also impressed Lehane who was delighted by traditional Hakka culinary arts. Traditional ground Hakka tea consists of ground tea leaves, peas, peanuts and sesame brewed to perfection with a decorative sprinkle of fried rice. “The tea leaves are infused with such unique flavors, I have never thought that tea leaves can be turned into a dessert. What an amazing surprise!” exclaimed Lehane.
Lehane believes that Taiwan’s hospitality of minsu culture is similar to the very essence of Airbnb. Given the well-established model of traditional minsu, a kind of local bed and breakfast with distinctive Taiwan flavor, Lehane is confident Airbnb can thrive here. As for the platform’s development in Taiwan, Lehane emphasized that Airbnb is willing to share information to assist the government, and does its best to comply with the law. Citing examples of how governments embrace and grow with innovations in the past, Chris emphasized that Airbnb will continue to cooperate and progress with the government.