Mon, Nov 05, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Freeway not the answer for Hualien

By Chen Yi-ling 陳怡伶

An example is maps: when traveling in some countries, every time one arrives at a place, one can find clear maps of the area. Many of these maps include recommended itineraries, and even three-dimensional pictures of some buildings in the area. Maps in Taiwan, however, often only show roads and road names. For people who can't read Chinese, such maps are difficult to use because their knowledge of the area is based not on street names, but on some characteristic or familiar landmarks, like McDonald's restaurants, gas stations, 7-Elevens, or prominent buildings. Taiwan's tourist maps show that the industry doesn't really understand how to attract foreign tourists.

A lot of money has been spent on building more facilities for tourism. But these facilities often cover up the natural beauty of the landscape the same way smearing layer after thick layer of make-up on the face of a pretty girl covers up her natural beauty. Beibin Park (北濱公園) and Nanbin Park (南濱公園) in Hualien are prime examples. The beautiful lawns and slopes have been covered over with a variety of facilities. More frustrating is that some dilapidated facilities have not been renovated, while brand new facilities were erected right next to them.

If Hualien really wants to attract more tourists, building a freeway is not the way. The way to implement sustainable management is to first make sure there is a good foundation for a quality tourism experience.

Chen Yi-ling is an assistant professor in the Department of Local Studies at National Hualien University of Education.

Translated by Anna Stiggelbout

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