Huge rise in Visayas tourists
The Philippines saw a surge in Taiwanese tourists to the central Visayas in the first four months of this year, the largest tourist growth from any country in the region. Data from the Philippine Department of Tourism released earlier this week showed a 110.75 percent year-on-year increase in the number of Taiwanese tourists traveling to the central Visayas in the first four months of the year. In total, 21,631 Taiwanese visited the region, whereas only 10,264 visited in the same period last year. To explain the increase, travel agencies said that tourists are trying to avoid traffic jams in Manila. The government has been promoting its New Southbound Policy, encouraging Taiwanese to visit Southeast Asia and promoting Taiwan as a travel destination. The department’s rankings showed that Taiwan was the sixth-largest source of visitors to the Philippines for the first half of this year, behind South Korea, Japan, China, the US and Australia.
International staff honored
Vice President Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) honored Shin Kong Wu Ho-Su Memorial Hospital yesterday for its contributions to healthcare among the nation’s allies. At a celebration marking the hospital’s 25th anniversary, Chen presented an Outstanding Organization Award to the hospital’s international medical team for “their work that has allowed the world to see Taiwan’s heart.” In particular, he acknowledged the work the staff has done in Palau, with which Taiwan has diplomatic ties. Palauans have come to describe the hospital’s medical team as “saviors from thousands of miles away,” Chen said. Also in attendance at the celebration was Shin Kong Group chairman Eugene Wu (吳東進), hospital president Hou Sheng-mao (侯勝茂) and Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲).
Taiwan donates to Texas
The government has donated US$800,000 to relief efforts in Texas after Hurricane Harvey caused widespread flooding in the state last week, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. The government “has decided to donate US$800,000 to local [US] governments and community disaster relief efforts,” the ministry said in a news release yesterday. According to a report by the Washington Post, Taiwan is one of the few foreign countries to have pledged to donate toward relief efforts. In 2005, the government donated US$2 million toward relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans; Taiwan’s Red Cross Society donated NT$3.7 million (US$122,695) and the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation also raised funds and sent supplies. Tzu Chi’s US branch also helped after Hurricane Katrina, aiding 20,000 households in need and donating more than US$4.7 million.
Alishan railway adds stop
The Alishan Forest Railway is adding a stop to one of its tourist-oriented train tours, the Taiwan Railways Administration announced yesterday. The administration said that the Shuishan branch line would become part of the “Alishan Train Pongbi” cruise-style tour starting next month, taking passengers along a previously inaccessible route. Pongbi means to travel along a zigzag path. The track goes through a large forest, at the end of which is a 19.6m-long wooden bridge and the renowned Shuishan Giant Tree. The “Alishan Train Pongbi” package is NT$880 for a round-trip ticket, which includes a tour guide and lunch.
FATAL FIRE: The health department is trying to contact the inspector who visited the site of the illegal nursing home to ask why they did not advise follow-up checks The Taipei City Government yesterday said that a health department inspector last year had visited the site of a long-term care facility in Neihu District (內湖) after receiving a report questioning its status. A fire broke out at the facility on Tuesday afternoon, killing three people. The Taipei Fire Department said that it received a report about a fire on the first floor of a four-story residential building on Kangning Road Sec. 1 at 2:38pm on Tuesday, firefighters arrived at 2:43pm and the fire was put out by 3:07pm. The firefighters found three men in beds and rushed them to hospital for
Taipei City Councilor Wang Hao (王浩) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) on Monday called for security improvements to the MRT, as fare evasion has increased more than 13-fold on the metropolitan railway system over the past five years. Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) has spoken out against fare evasion and other contraventions of MRT regulations, but since he took office in 2015 the number of contraventions has more than doubled, Wang said, adding that there were 537 cases in 2015 compared with 959 last year. A video was posted to YouTube in June showing people how to evade paying a fare,
FEELING MISUNDERSTOOD: Media speculation has fueled confusion about the KMT’s reasons for skipping a Chinese forum and delaying an AIT meeting, party sources said The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) on Sunday said that it is not seeking to improve relations with the US or China at the expense of the other, and that its relations with the countries would be topic-based. The party has faced questions over its foreign policy after it on Monday last week announced its withdrawal from the annual Straits Forum and delayed planned talks with the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT). The party has also taken a tough stance on the importation of US meat containing ractopamine, while also lambasting China for increasing its military activity in and around the Taiwan Strait. Following
Yuchi Township (魚池) fishers have appealed to the Nantou County Government for help in dealing with an invasive fish species in Sun Moon Lake (日月潭), where it has devastated the local ecosystem. Fishers at Sun Moon Lake have been using electrofishing in an attempt to eliminate the giant snakehead fish — found in Africa and Southeast Asia — but they have struggled to keep up with the growing population of the species, which breeds during September and October, the county government said on Monday. The county has contacted researchers at National Tsing Hua University, saying it hoped they could come up