Mon, Jan 05, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Tourism Bureau may stop hosting Lantern Festival

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The annual Lantern Festival will continue, but the central government is considering whether the festival should be hosted by the Tourism Bureau or by county governments, the bureau said in a statement on Saturday.

The Tourism Bureau said it had held the Lantern Festival for 20 years and that it was an important tourist attraction that had drawn a number of both domestic and international tourists.

This year’s Lantern Festival will be held in Ilan starting on Feb. 2. The bureau estimates it would draw approximately 5,000 foreign tourists.

However, the festival still has room for improvement in terms of content and scale, it said.

The bureau issued the statement following a China Times report that said the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) was assessing whether the Tourism Bureau should continue hosting the annual event after this year.

The report also said that the bureau could decide to cancel the event after the evaluation.

The Chinese-language report quoted MOTC Minister Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) as saying that after the government decided to change the event’s name from the “Taipei Lantern Festival” to the “Taiwan Lantern Festival” and change the venues of the festival every year, there have been complaints from some Japanese travel agencies that the changes made it difficult for them to arrange tour schedules.

Some travel agencies said they could not even put the festival on their schedules because the announcement of the new location comes too late.

“Given that local governments are also equipped with marketing resouces, there is a need for us to redefine the Lantern Festival,” the report quoted Mao as saying.

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