Wed, Apr 11, 2018 - Page 8 News List

Kenting needs new tourism vision

By Johnny Shieh 謝國榮

Taiwanese often question why anyone would make the trip to Okinawa, Japan, when Taiwan has Kenting.

However, over the past few years there have been stories about how Kenting is becoming a bit of a rip-off paradise: reports of people being charged NT$1,800 for two plates of braised luwei (滷味, soy sauce-marinated snack food), or stories of a bowl of three-color noodles going for NT$180 during last week’s Tomb Sweeping Day holiday, or breakfast stores on the Hengchun Peninsula selling a fried chicken burger for NT$65.

There was also the report of a hotel in Kenting charging NT$6,000 per night for booking a room, only for the proprietors to jack up the price by an extra NT$3,000 one day before, citing the long weekend. This is nothing more than cynically ripping customers off, pure and simple.

Kenting’s long-term problem with illegal street vendors, added to the reports of high food and accommodation prices, is giving the place a bad name.

The Hengchun Peninsula offers blue skies, beautiful ocean and beaches, but visitors expect the place to be clean and safe. Instead, everywhere you look there is trash and empty plastic bottles, to a shocking extent. After the long weekend, the place was a veritable sea of garbage.

In Hawaii, the beaches are cleaned every day, and there are people combing the place with metal detectors to make sure there are no metal objects buried in the sand that could hurt barefoot beachgoers. This has helped make Hawaii the popular tourist destination that it is.

The residents, sellers, business owners and tourists, as well as the local government, of the Hengchun Peninsula are equally responsible for the serious pollution of the coast and local environment.

Kenting should take a leaf out of the book of Nice and Cannes in France, and construct pedestrian walkways, complete with shaded pavilions and seating areas, to attract more tourists.

There is already a large car park at South Bay, so it is possible to prohibit parking along the coastal road, and repurpose these stretches to pedestrian use only.

South Bay is the largest beach area there, but the motor boat operators scatter their speedboats, tow trucks, sun umbrellas, tables and chairs around the area, getting in the way of tourists and ruining the view.

There should be specific floating quays and stretches of beach set aside for motor boats and banana boats, separate from the swimming and snorkeling areas, to make sure swimmers can enjoy the water in safety.

In the West, beaches often have exclusive, male and female free shower and storage facilities for swimmers: You do not see this kind of facility in Kenting.

Why does the Kenting National Park office not explore the idea of entering into build-operate-transfer agreements to develop facilities? For example, the Kenting Chateau Beach Resort and its beautiful beaches belong to the government, and are available for the general public to use, free of charge.

In the same way, Gloria Manor was former president Chiang Kai-shek’s (蔣介石) official guesthouse in the south of the country, and it could be opened up to the general public to visit for free. Very few people know of its existence, and there is very little information readily available about it.

Also, the Kenting Youth Activity Center has wonderful Minnan architecture, a coastal path and the Frog Rock local landmark. The latter two are government property, and visitors should be able to have free access to them. Why is it that the center charges visitors an entrance fee?

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