Tue, May 09, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Northeast Coast's tourist facilities get a facelift

UPGRADE Visitors to the area, which includes Fulong beach, will find new villas and innovative restrooms, which are part of the government's efforts to boost tourism

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Visitors to the Northeast Coast scenic region will have a new travel experience this summer as well-known tourist attractions have been renovated and new facilities added.

The Fu Jong Hotel, a rehabilitate-operate-transfer project made possible by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, is part of the revamp and will become operational next month.

As well, the Fulong (福隆) train station has been renovated in a joint effort by the ministry's tourism bureau and the Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA). It will feature tourist-friendly signs and a new interior design, as well as new facilities to house small businesses.

Minister of Transportation and Communications Kuo Yao-chi (郭瑤琪) on Friday gave a briefing on the improved facilities, calling it a success for cross-departmental coordination.

She said the completion of the hotel showed the government's policy of encouraging private investment in public infrastructure was on the right track.

"Although the public now seems to have alternative thoughts on the Statute for the Encouragement of Private Sector Participation in Public Infrastructure Projects [促進民間參與公共建設法] because of controversies over some public construction projects, the hotel serves a positive example of how the private sector can contribute to the construction of infrastructure," Kuo said.

Kuo also proposed that the TRA coordinate with the tourism bureau and private business operators to offer package tours.

In addition to visiting the hotel and the new train station, Kuo also inspected the restrooms at scenic spots in the area.

She said ministry surveys found that most tourists were dissatisfied with the quality of restrooms, which could serve as an indicator of a country's level of advancement.

The Northeast Coast National Scenic Area Administration revamped existing restrooms by adding some innovative functions.

Electric signs have been installed on the upper right corner of stall doors and will display the Chinese characters for "occupied" whenever the door is locked by the user. When the women's restrooms are all occupied, female tourists can go through a door in the wall between women's and men's restrooms and use additional toilets there.

Restrooms also have been equipped with water-saving devices to collect rain water and use it to flush toilets.

The ministry signed a contract with the Fu Jong Hotel last year to jointly develop the hotel industry in the area.

The contract includes two parts -- a hotel renovation and a revamp to a facility formerly used by swimmers.

The first part encompasses the Fu Jong Hotel, where existing hotels on the beach have been renovated into villas. The renovation of each unit has cost an average of NT$12 million (US$382,000). Next month, 14 villas with 54 guest rooms will be available to the public.

For the second part of the contract, the company will adopt the build-operate-transfer model to tear down and replace a beach facility that was originally used by swimmers. It will build a tourist center in its place, which will include suites, restaurants, a shopping mall, conference rooms, spas and gyms.

The facilities will be within walking distance of the train station and close to the Second Provincial Highway.

The Northeast Coast Scenic Region has been selected by the ministry as a key area to help increase the number of tourists visiting Taiwan.

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