Fri, Dec 20, 2002 - Page 2 News List

Tsou to choose tourist ambassadors

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

Aboriginal women from the Tsou tribe dance during a tourism promotion event held in Taipei yesterday. The event was organized by the Chiayi City government to promote a ``beauties and warriors'' pageant to be held in the Alishan resort area on Dec. 25.

PHOTO: SEAN CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES

The final round of the Mountain Beauties and Warriors Competition will be held at the Alishan forest recreation area on Christmas as part of the Chiayi County Govern-ment's bid to boost tourism in the region.

"I sincerely invite everyone to visit Alishan and the Tsou tribe," Chiayi County Governor Chen Ming-wen (陳明文) said at a press conference in Taipei.

"You can explore the Tsou's culture and have a different Christmas high in the mountains," Chen said.

In the final round of the competition, three beauties and three warriors will be elected as ambassadors for the mountain, whose main task is to promote tourism.

All of the competitors are Tsou, one of the nine major Aboriginal tribes in Taiwan.

Tsou are concentrated chiefly in Chiayi's Alishan, Nantou's Sun Moon Lake and several townships in Kaohsiung.

"I hope the competition can build a bridge between Aborigines and people living in the cities," said Voyu Yakumangana (楊智偉), one of the competitors.

"I also hope that, through the competition, more attention will be paid to our cultural crisis," he said.

Last Sunday, five beauties and fives warriors were selected in Alishan Township during the first round of competition.

The three winners of the final competition will be awarded NT$600,000, NT$300,000 and NT$200,000, respectively, by the county government.

The 10 competitors in the final will introduce themselves in their mother tongue and present their vision for tourism development in the area.

The competitors will also put on a performance and take part in quizzes, the county government said.

The three winners will be required to take English and Japanese courses and international etiquette lessons, according to the county government.

After this training, the three winners will serve as Alishan's ambassadors and promote local tourism for two years.

"The government plans to invest NT$4.5 billion to develop Alishan into an international tourist destination over the next five years," Chen said, adding that the mountain's tourism resources are abundant.

"However, tourism on the mountain cannot be an enduring business if the attractions of the Tsou culture are ignored," Chen said.

Chen added that there are five wonders in Alishan: the sunrise, cloud sea, forest, sunset and mountain railways.

"The beauties and warriors competition will focus attention on the Tsou culture, which will enrich the features of the mountain," Chen added.

The traditional livelihood of the Tsou people depended mainly on agriculture and hunting.

However, since the government banned hunting, many Tsou people were forced to leave their tribes to seek work in other places.

In recent years, as the Tsou people began to learn to grow tea leaves and wasabi, their economic situation has improved and the tribe's population is slowly increasing, according to the Cabinet.

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