Keelung’s efforts to attract tourists from Xiamen in Fujian Province began bearing fruit yesterday with the arrival of a cruise ship from the southeastern Chinese city.
The Cosco Star, with more than 400 Chinese passengers onboard, was the first cruise liner from Xiamen to call at the northern Taiwanese port since Keelung’s Tourism Promotion Association set up an office in Xiamen in January, the Keelung City Government said.
The tourists are expected to stay at least one night in Keelung before proceeding to other popular sites around the country, such as Sun Moon Lake (日月潭) in Nantou County, Jioufen (九份) in New Taipei City (新北市) and Yehliu Geopark on the northern coast, according to the agency handling the tour.
In light of the fatal train crash last week, the highly popular Alishan Forest Recreation Park in Chiayi County will be excluded from the one-week tour, the agency said.
Instead, the cruise ship passengers, who will be divided into three groups, will be taken to the Sitou Forest Recreation Area in Nantou County, it said.
The cruise ship service is expected to bring thousands of Chinese visitors each month to Keelung, which will be a big boost to the city’s tourism industry, said Wang Tsun-hung (王圳宏), director-general of Keelung City’s Department of Transportation and Tourism.
However, hotel owners in the port city said accommodation is currently limited to mostly three or four-star hotels and guest houses. They expressed the hope that rising demand would spur improvement in the hotel industry.
On the official Keelung Tourist Information Web site, the number of recommended places to stay totals 30. In comparison, there are 353 listings on Taipei Travel Net, the official tourism site of the Taipei City Government.