The two-day Oktoberfest celebration kicked off in Taipei on Friday (Sept. 25), giving German companies and their business partners a rare chance to rub elbows at a time when social gatherings are temporarily banned in many countries due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The annual German Trade Office (GTO) Oktoberfest is in its fifth year after the inaugural event in 2016. The opening night was attended by around 100 guests, including German expatriates, officials from Taiwan's Foreign Ministry, and business people.
Axel Limberg, chief representative and executive director of the GTO, told CNA that the Oktoberfest is a signature networking event for German companies in Taiwan. "The general meaning of Oktoberfest is, of course, networking, meeting friends, meeting them in a relaxed atmosphere, having fun together," Limberg said.
He commended Taiwan's government for its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, which makes such social events possible. However, he also said the big challenge for the next phase is how to reopen the country because businesses are feeling the difficulties caused by travel restrictions.
"It becomes urgent to open the country in a reasonable way to allow business trips and business exchanges because only these types of exchanges will create new business which is essential in the future," he said. This year's Oktoberfest celebration has been scaled down to about 100 guests per night from around 500-600 per night in previous years due to the COVID-19 prevention measures, Limberg said.
The celebration started after Limberg and Thomas Prinz, director-general of the German Institute Taipei, hosted the Tap the Barrel ceremony. Despite the smaller scale of the event, the fun remained the same.
Participants, many of them in typical Oktoberfest dress, drank beer, enjoying German food and live music. According to Limberg, there are roughly 1,100 Germans living in Taiwan and about 250 German companies operate in the country.