Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman’s Rubber Duck has yet to arrive, but it is already giving a much-needed boost to Greater Kaohsiung’s tourism industry, as hotels and restaurants in the city prepare to welcome it next month.
According to city officials, hotel reservations for the Mid-Autumn Festival holiday period — Sept. 19 to Sept. 22 — are up 30 percent so far compared with the same period last year.
The giant yellow rubber duck is scheduled to dock at the Glory Pier (光榮碼頭) next month as part of its global tour of “spreading joy around the world.”
Greater Kaohsiung Tourism Bureau Director Hsu Chuan-sheng (許傳盛) said he recently met with local hoteliers to discuss designing one or two-day packages for tourists coming to see the duck.
He estimated that Greater Kaohsiung could attract at least 3 million visitors during the duck’s one-month stay.
“Revenues from related businesses could reach about NT$1 billion [US$33.2 million],” he added.
Hsu said that limited-edition souvenirs were a big hit during the Rubber Duck’s stay at Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbor in May, with some of the products selling out in three days.
“For its run in Kaohsiung, we are planning to have rubber duck toys, postcards, T-shirts and other souvenir products,” he said, adding that information would soon be posted on the bureau’s Web site.
The Howard Plaza Hotel in Greater Kaohsiung has already installed a 3m-high inflatable yellow duck next to its main entrance.
According to the hotel’s public relations officer, Liu Chia-chen (劉佳貞), more than 100 visitors have had their photographs taken with it in just one week’s time.
“We are offering an accommodation package that includes two free rubber duckies and a free cruise around Kaohsiung Harbor to let visitors observe the giant rubber duck from different angles,” she said.
The hotel’s Jiannanchun Restaurant will offer a specialty roast duck dish, she said, adding that “the skin of the duck will be roasted to a bright juicy golden-brown and a chef will carve it right by diners’ tables to demonstrate his skill.”
Kaohsiung’s 85-story Tuntex Sky Tower is preparing cocktail concoctions named after Hofman’s creation, including “Hello Rubber” and “E-Be Duck” to go with “Yellow Duck Mousse,” which is made of pineapple slices and gelatin.
Hotel manager Chen Yu-hua (陳怡樺) recommended booking rooms on select floors that offer an unobstructed view of the harbor to view the giant duck.
Excellent views are also on offer at Fullon Hotel Kaohsiung, with many suites overlooking the Glory Pier.
“For the Mid-Autumn Festival holiday period next month, the suites are now almost all booked up. Our business revenue is expected to increase by more than 30 percent,” hotel vice general manager Lin Pao-lo (林保羅) said.
The duck is set to visit Greater Kaohsiung from Sept. 19 to Oct. 20 before moving to Taoyuan County, where it will stay from Oct. 26 to Nov. 10. It will then drop anchor at Keelung Harbor for six weeks starting on Dec. 21.
According to Keelung City Council Speaker Huang Ching-tai (黃景泰), the visit of the massive floating sculpture could bring as much as NT$1 billion in revenue to the city.
Keelung hopes the duck will attract 5 million visitors, Huang added.
The economic boost aside, the giant yellow duck is also set to bring smiles to the residents of the port city, which Huang said has been ranked the least happy city in the country for five years running.