Sat, Nov 19, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Backpackers urge more English-language signage

CNA , TAIPEI

Taiwan should improve its English signage in order to attract more foreign youth to tour the nation, according to a report released yesterday by the National Youth Commission.

The report, which is a compilation of the opinions of 37 foreign backpackers who were invited by the commission to tour the country and point out the shortcomings in the tourism sector, said the most significant problem facing foreign backpackers is the language barrier.

The backpackers were divided into 12 groups, with each group taking a different route.

Most of the participants complained that they were helpless when it came to public transport because most of the signs are only in Chinese.

For example, they said, local railway stations provide train schedules in Chinese only.

The backpackers admired the nation's railway system, describing it as speedy, punctual,clean and spacious, but they said they had difficulty finding where they were while on the train because the announcements on the public address systems are always in Mandarin or other local languages.

The railway's computerized ticket-booking system excludes foreign customers by requiring users to key in their national ID cards numbers.

Taipei City was the only place that made the foreign travelers feel at ease, because English is one of the languages used on its MRT and bus systems.

One backpacker said the bus he took from Hualien to Taroko (太魯閣) Gorge was driven by a reckless driver who caused two traffic accidents during a 45km trip.

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