Wed, Dec 29, 2004 - Page 10 News List

Taipei 101 prepares for tower visitors

By Jessie Ho  /  STAFF REPORTER

The nation's new landmark, the Taipei 101 Observatory, is poised to become the nation's hottest tourist spot, attracting an expected 1 million visitors per year, company officials said yesterday.

The observatory, located on the 89th floor of the Taipei 101 building at a height of 382.2m, will hold its soft-opening from Jan. 19, and will be open from 1pm to 7pm, Tuesday through Sunday. The official opening date is March 1, after which business hours will be extended to 10am to 10pm daily.

"We believe the observatory will become the most popular tourist attraction in Taiwan," Harace Lin (林鴻明), president and chief executive officer of Taipei Financial Center Corp, told reporters during a media tour of the tower.

Stephen Chi (季正杰), manager of the observatory, said the company estimates it will receive 1 million visitors every year. Comparing the venue to major observatories around the world, such as the Empire State Building in New York City and the Sears Tower in Chicago, Chi said, "well, we are the tallest in the world."

The observatory can accommodate 1,396 people at a time and provides a 360-degree view of the whole of Taipei City, even extending to Tamsui and the mountains surrounding the city.

Taipei Financial Center Corp will further open an outdoor observatory on the 91st floor for visitors in the summer, Chi said.

One feature the tower is proud of is the world's fastest elevators, which can take visitors to the skydeck in just 37 seconds.

The skyscraper's huge tuned damper -- 5.5m in diameter -- which is used to counteract strong winds and earthquakes, can be seen in the loop of the observatory.

Admission will cost NT$350 for adults, NT$320 for seniors, while youths, students and disabled visitors, as well as groups with more than 20 visitors, will be charged NT$300 per person.

Ticket sales will account for an estimated 50 percent of the observatory's income, with the other half coming from a souvenir kiosk and a drinks bar to be set up on the floor, Chi said.

The observatory business in Taiwan, however, needs to be well packaged and promoted, said Wu Chuan-chuan (吳娟娟), manager of the Shin Kong Observatory.

Located on the 46th floor, or 200m up in the nation's second highest building, the Shin Kong Tower in front of Taipei Main Station, the Shin Kong Observatory was a popular tourist spot when it opened in 1994.

The tower drew 690,000 visitors in the first year of operation, but traffic declined to 200,000 in 2002, and to 120,000 this year, Wu said.

"Visitors love the night view from the tower, but with little promotion activities to increase visibility, many tourists overlook the site when visiting Taipei," Wu said.

To regain business, Wu said the observatory will be renamed "Topview Taipei" next year and will feature a historical tour of Taipei using an audio guide.

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