The Southwest Coast National Scenic Area Administration said it was considering setting up the nation’s first public nude swimming area in Masago Beach (馬沙溝) in Greater Tainan.
According to the agency’s acting director-general, Cheng Rong-fong (鄭榮峰), it has commissioned a firm to evaluate the viability of the proposal, which could help increase tourism revenue in southern Taiwan.
International tourists have been reported to enjoy nude swimming and sunbathing at the far end of Masago Beach.
Saying that the law does not actually ban nude swimming, Cheng said hot spring operators can separate regular bathers and nude bathers with tall picket fences, and a similar practice could be applied to regulate nude swimmers on the beach.
However, the practice must be carefully arranged so that it does not block public access to the beach, he added.
Cheng said Masago Beach was cleaner and safer for swimming than other beaches. Annual music festivals in Kenting in Pingtung County and Gongliao (貢寮) in New Taipei City (新北市) have created reputations for those places, and Masago needs to have its own unique feature to attract more tourists, he said.
Cheng added that the coastal areas of Greater Tainan, as well as Chiayi and Yunlin counties, have rich tourism resources, but residents in these localities rank low in terms of average income.
The agency must create new tourist attractions to generate revenue and cannot simply rely on government subsidies, he said.
Commenting on the proposal, Greater Tainan Mayor William Lai (賴清德) said many international tourists love Masago Beach because of its natural conditions.
However, he added that local swimmers might not be as open-minded as foreign visitors, and the city cannot afford to alienate local swimmers because of a few people who love skinny dipping.
Lai said the proposed public nude swimming area could potentially attract more curious observers than nude swimmers, and that he needed to know more about the proposal before making any decision.