Thu, Oct 01, 2009 - Page 4 News List

Orchid park lures tourists

REVISION The Tainan County Government hopes to save millions of dollars per year by developing a tourism park by using a ‘rehabilitate-operate-transfer’ contract

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

The Taiwan Orchid Plantation in Tainan County is poised to become a major tourist attraction after being transformed into a leisure and tourism park.

The park, named The World for Orchid Exploration, is set to be inaugurated on Saturday and will be open to professional exhibitors, orchid breeders and growers, as well as tourists.

A joint venture between the Tainan County Government and the Taiwan Orchid Professional Co, the park was developed under a ­“rehabilitate-operate-­transfer” (ROT) contract that will run for 12 years, said Cheng Jung-ji (鄭榮基), deputy director of the Tainan County Agricultural Affairs Department.

“The joint venture will allow the Taiwan Orchid Plantation to save millions of dollars a year in maintenance costs and revive open spaces that have been lying idle,” Cheng said.

Vast areas of open space in the plantation had been unused for months at a time when no orchid exhibitions were taking place.

The Taiwan Orchid Plantation put itself on the map when it began to host international orchid shows in 2005. The shows have not only helped promote Taiwanese orchids on the international flora market, but have also turned Taiwanese orchids into a cash cow for the agricultural industry, earning considerable amounts in foreign exchange every year, officials said.

The county government will charge royalties of 1 percent to 2 percent in the first three years, and will collect royalties at a flat rate of NT$1 million (US$31,100) per year from the fourth year, Cheng said.

Costs for land-leasing, as well as publicity costs for orchid exhibitions, which total millions of dollars per year and have added to the county government’s expenditures, will also be absorbed by the private exhibitors or shop operators at the park, he added.

Hsu Neng-shun (許能舜), CEO of the Taiwan Orchid Professional Co, said his company invested NT$130 million in the development.

The park features four themed parks — the Orchid Castle, the Orchid Dream Work, the Crystal Palace and the Orchid Gallery — where visitors can see how orchids are grown and how local specialists and breeders use biotechnology to decode orchids’ genetic secrets, which in turn allows them to produce various cosmetics, Hsu said.

Visitors can also view entries in an orchid design competition scheduled to begin on Saturday, part of a series of activities to mark the transformation of the plantation into a leisure and tourism park, Hsu added.

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