Fri, Feb 07, 2003 - Page 10 News List

Domestic travel surges over holiday

SOMEWHERE ELSE With a prolonged economic slump and trouble abroad, locals decided to stay close to home. But Taipei was cold, so tourists chose to head south

By Annabel Lue  /  STAFF REPORTER

Most Taiwanese chose to stay close to home rather than travel abroad during the Lunar New Year holiday, with the number of tourists traveling domestically rising over the previous year.

"The number of tourists visiting popular domestic destinations during the six-day Lunar New Year holiday saw a 17 percent increase on average over the same period last year," said Chiu Chang-kuang (邱長光), a section chief at the Tourism Bureau, which is under the Ministry of Transportation and Communications.

But the outbound travel sector reported tremendous decline this year.

"The number of people going on tours abroad during the holiday period fell nearly 50 percent from last year," said Wang Chi-han (王啟漢), chairman of the Chinese International Association of Travel Agents (中華民國商業旅行協會).

Tight budgets forced many people to stay near home.

"The slow economy seems to have undercut spending power, making domestic travel more attractive this year," Chiu said.

Warm weather drew the public to southern Taiwan.

"With the temperature in northern parts of the nation were too low for outdoor activities, so people decided to head south," Chiu said.

Destinations in the central or southern parts of the country reported robust business.

Pingtung County's National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium (海洋生物館) attracted more than 130,000 visitors over the holiday break.

Janfusun Fancy World (劍湖山世界), a theme and amusement park in Yunlin County featuring adventures rides, also drew about 130,000 tourists.

Nantou County, a popular tourist destination before the Sept. 21 earthquake in 1999, also reported impressive figures, with more than 110,000 visitors heading to the county's Formosa Aboriginal Culture Village (九族文化村) over the holiday.

Nice place to visit

* The National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium attracted more than 130,000 visitors over the holiday break.

* Janfusun Fancy World drew about 130,000 tourists.

* Formosa Aboriginal Culture Village reported around 110,000 visitors.

"Visitor arrivals were up nearly 15 percent over last year," said Huang Jui-chi (黃瑞奇), a manager at the culture village.

"The results are very encouraging ... finally our business has returned to pre-earthquake levels," he said

In central Taiwan, snow was the main attraction.

Thousands of people rushed to Mount Hohuan after snow fell on Feb. 3, stimulating business for hotels, restaurants and resorts nearby.

The area's Skyline Resortopia (天廬) and Skyline Inn (天廬飯店) were packed with visitors going to Mount Hohuan, Chiu said.

In northern Taiwan, low temperature sent many tourists to hot-spring resorts.

Spring City Resort (春天酒店), a hot-spring center in Peitou, reported more than 1,000 people per day -- 30 percent higher than on most days.

Other hot-spring resorts in Yangmingshan, Chinshan and Wulai also reported a spike in visitors, Chiu said.

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