Taipei’s Chientan Youth Hostel took first prize Saturday in an international competition to find the best hostel design that conveys the energy and creativity of young people.
The hostel beat more than 40 projects from 18 countries to receive the award from STAY WYSE member Hostelling International (HI).
According to the association, Chientan won thanks to its creation of a space called “HI Friends’ Corner” where guests can relax and make friends in a comfortable, creatively decorated area.
In the corner, postcards with blank Taiwan maps are available to all the hostellers, who can color and note down their itineraries to share with others.
Praising the hostel’s commitment to the youth travel industry, HI CEO Mikael Hansson said it has delivered HI’s global branding initiative.
“We want to communicate that we are more than just a bed,” he said, referring to the industry’s operating style that allows budget-oriented travelers to rent a bed and share various other facilities.
The Taiwan Youth Hostel Association (TYHA) said the country accommodated more than 40,000 backpackers through its 37 accredited youth hostels last year.
TYHA Chairman Su Cherng-tyan said he expects better performance in the youth travel market following the recent launch of the free independent traveler program for Chinese tourists.
As the program allows Chinese tourists to visit Taiwan without being part of a tour group, youth hostels hold the advantage of flexibility over regular hotels, he said.
But he also expressed concern about the co-branding strategy the industry in Taiwan uses, under which the country’s hostels are operated by hotels, which he said lacks real entrepreneurship.
Since the hostel industry rents beds instead of rooms, Su said, the hotels tend to regard the hostels merely as a hotel extension.
As a result, those who want to book a bed during peak seasons are likely to be disappointed by the fact that all beds have been reserved for hotel customers.
“The hostel business can be sustainable only if we assure our customers that their visits at any time of the year are welcomed,” he said.
Su said he hopes the government can help fix the problem by leasing idle public facilities so that more independent youth hostels can be established.
Currently, the Taipei city government is planning to build a new hostel at the city’s Shuanglien Market