Mon, Oct 12, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Alishan highway to partially reopen to small vehicles

KILLING TOURISM The closure of the road to the popular tourist destination has harmed tourism in the area, with Chinese groups now going elsewhere

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

The main road leading to the ­Alishan Forest Recreation Area will be partially reopened to small vehicles on Oct. 20, the Tourism Bureau said.

Alishan highway, which was heavily damaged during Typhoon Morakot in August, will be opened to nine-seater minivans, but they will only be permitted to go as far as Fenchihu (奮起湖) — a popular tourist spot — the bureau said.

This will allow tour agencies to take tourists in small groups to the mountain, which is a popular destination among Chinese sightseers, helping the recovery of tourism in the area, Tourism Bureau officials said.

Alishan highway, formally known as Highway 18, was washed out in dozens of places by the storm and has been closed for repairs.

The section of the highway that will reopen cannot accommodate large buses, the Tourism Bureau said. The road between Fenchihu and the Alishan Forest Recreation Area will remain closed to traffic, it said.

The bureau’s statistics show that about 12,000 Chinese visited Taiwan during China’s eight-day National Day holiday from Oct. 1, bringing in NT$760 million (US$23 million) in tourism revenues.

Although the number of Chinese visitors during the holiday period doubled from last year, visitor arrivals from China in general were still low compared with the peak number of 3,000 to 4,000 per day in the first six months of the year, the bureau said.

After the long Chinese holiday, the number of visitors from China dropped to below 1,000 a day, it said, adding that ­Alishan’s closure and the outbreak of A(H1N1) influenza were contributing factors.

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