Sat, Aug 26, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Residents opposed to government plan for Green Island

CNA , TAIPEI

In response to government plans to impose a visitor control quota to conserve the natural environment of Green Island (綠島) off southeastern Taitung County, a group of island residents have expressed their opposition, claiming that it will not help improve their livelihoods.

The residents voiced their opposition to the plan in a township meeting on Thursday after it was reported that the Executive Yuan was considering whether to limit the number of visitors to the tiny island to under 4,000 per day and that it was also pondering whether to make the island a national park to better conserve it.

Claiming that a quota control would not help resolve its deteriorating environment, they suggested that the government consult with local residents -- mainly fishermen and tourism-related businesses -- to work out complementary measures.

If tourism controls are imposed on Green Island without advance measures to help local residents, their livelihoods will be adversely affected, the Green Island township representatives said.

In addition, some tourist agency operators are considering whether to give up organizing tours to the island -- a development that will lead to losses in other sectors, including hoteliers and restaurant owners.

According to the township representatives, it is more important to upgrade travel provisions to Green Island and to "simultaneously protect the local environment with eco-friendly measures."

Imposing a quota control on visitor numbers alone will not resolve the many problems facing the island, such as overfishing and underdeveloped tourist facilities.

What the government should do is help Green Island go international and make it into a world-class eco-friendly resort island, they said.

Until recently a quiet backwater, unregulated tourism has been allowed to run rampant and Green Island is now overrun by hordes of tourists on weekends and holidays, spelling disaster for the delicate on and offshore ecosystems.

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