Taiwan Mulls Name Change

Following a study conducted by industry experts, the Taiwan Tourism Administration has recommended changing the spelling of Taiwan to “Thaiwan” in order to improve search engine optimization (SEO) scores.  

The idea for the name change came after French DJ David Guetta accidentally called Taiwan “Thailand” during a concert in Taipei in December last year.  

“A lot of people confuse Thailand and Taiwan,” says Wu Am Yi, head of the Tourism Administration’s Digital Tourism Promotion Center for Interconnectedness (TADTPCI). “So, we thought, why not take advantage of people’s ignorance? Initially, we wanted to change the name to “Tailand” but after conducting the study we found that “Thaiwan” would help boost our Google hits more.”  

A Google search performed in March showed that “Thailand” returned 3.2 billion results, but “Taiwan” only returned 1.8 billion – evidence that the plan may go some way to elevating the East Asian country’s reputation among the international community. 

Subsequent proposals include renaming some of Taiwan’s major cities to further promote the island as a tourist destination, including the capital Taipei, which may be renamed Tsaipei to commemorate the outgoing president, Tsai Ing-wen, whose second term ends in May.  

The proposals do have precedent. Turkiye changed its official name in English from Turkey, in May 2022, while the Czech Republic said in 2016 that it would prefer being referred to as Czechia. 

LuoSiFu Road, also known as Roosevelt Road, is a major artery in Taipei. Good luck finding it on Google Maps.

Asked whether the government would consider standardizing the spellings of road names on street signs and addresses in connection with the name changes, the Tourism Administration responded that no such plans have been made.  

“We believe inconsistent spellings build resilience among the tourists, foreign residents, and postal workers in T(h)aiwan,” says the Tourism Administration’s Me Lu La. 

As an example, Me notes that Zhongxiao East Road, where the Tourism Administration is located, is at times spelled Chunghsiao or Chung-hsiao East Road. Such inconsistencies, he says, also promote critical thinking as they at times make it impossible to locate addresses on apps such as Google Maps.

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