Tourism in central Taiwan may get a much-needed boost when the historic Lishan Guesthouse (梨山賓館) reopens for trial operations in July next year, the Tourism Bureau said yesterday.
Built in the style of a Chinese palace, the guesthouse was the exclusive domain of Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石), who used to stay there when he was on an inspection tour or holiday.
The guesthouse was also a familiar sight to those who passed by it on hiking tours on the Central Cross-Island Highway (中橫公路).
The guesthouse was closed after the highway was severely damaged by the 921 Earthquake in 1999 and was subsequently devastated by floods caused by Typhoon Mindulle in 2004.
The bureau yesterday signed a contract with Greater Taichung-based Daan Construction Co, allowing the contractor to run the guesthouse under the operate-transfer (OT) business model.
Tourism Bureau Director--General Janice Lai (賴瑟珍) said the bureau took over the guesthouse in 2004 and had been contemplating how to renovate the hotel.
“We thought that many people would continue to think of the Lishan [area] as a disaster-stricker zone if the hotel were to remain closed,” Lai said.
Hsu Cheng-long (許正隆), the director of the Tri-Mountain National Scenic Area Administration, was in charge of the renovation project.
He said the agency encountered many problems when it first took over the property.
“It had been closed for a long time, and you could even see some homeless people and stray dogs there,” Hsu said.
“Fortunately, the 275 pillars in the guesthouse were not damaged after all this time. There were only scratches on the surface,” he said.
Hsu said the agency spent about NT$100 million (US$2.44 million) renovating the guesthouse.
Under the terms of the contract, the contractor will invest no less than NT$29.5 million in the first year to renovate the property.
Once the guesthouse starts operating, the contractor will give 3.5 percent of its annual revenue as royalty to the bureau and 1 percent to local residents for charity or for contribution to the tourism development fund.