Tue, Sep 13, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Taroko to boost tourism with Aboriginal focus

By Wang Chun-chi and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

In the face of dwindling numbers of Chinese tourists, officials at Taroko National Park plan to explore new types of tourism by emphasizing Aboriginal culture.

The number of Chinese tourists has fallen sharply since President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) took office and some in the industry are referring to the situation as the “tourism winter.”

Taroko National Park has seen about a 40 percent drop in the number of visitors, but park officials are optimistic that plans for overnight activities in Aboriginal communities would help them attract new sources of tourism.

Local community representatives have suggested that the government revert to the policies of the “pre-China tourist era.”

Traditionally a favorite destination of international visitors, Taroko National Park this summer welcomed about 100,000 fewer visitors compared with the same period last year.

Park authorities say they plan to deepen the tourist experience, creating more interaction with the cultural and biological diversity of the park.

So far, about 100 visitors have participated in interactive activities with Aboriginal communities, they said.

The park administration office said it expects an increase in the number of tour buses visiting the park after construction work on the Suhua Highway is complete.

It added that it is preparing for the increase by improving the transportation within the park, citing the introduction of electric buses before the end of the year.

Hualien County Bureau of Tourism Acting Director Pen Wei-tsu (彭偉族) said his office is dealing with the drop in the number of tourists by promoting all-inclusive travel packages to domestic and foreign travelers.

He added that media outlets in Dubai have been invited to video and photograph the scenery in a bid to market Hualien to more diverse sources of tourists.

Sioulin Township’s (秀林) Sanjhan Community Development Association director-general Lin Yi-lang (林一郎) said before Chinese tourists started visiting Taiwan the future looked bright.

After eight years of their reliance on China for tourists, industry professionals have finally had a wake-up call, he added.

“In line with President Tsai’s ‘new southbound policy’ we need to rediscover our original aspirations for marketing Taiwan internationally,” Lin said.

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