The Tourism Bureau is to award NT$800,000 for ideas about how to make national scenic areas more accessible to elderly and disabled people.
The nation at the end of March officially became an aging society, meaning that 14 percent of the population is 65 or older, the bureau said on Monday, adding that tours must therefore be friendly to elderly and disabled people, as well as those who take care of them.
The bureau said it is offering the prize for creative proposals from the public about how to make 13 national scenic areas under the bureau’s administration more travel-friendly.
The competition aims to encourage collaboration between students, teachers, industry experts and scenic area officials, bureau Director-General Chou Yung-hui (周永暉) said.
“They can cooperate to design tour routes that allow elderly and disabled people to appreciate nature and cultural places in a safe manner,” he said. “They can also use technology to create unique travel experiences for tourists with special needs.”
The tours should be fun for the whole family, and enable people with special needs to go outdoors and those who take care of them to also take a break, Chou said.
For example, the tours should allow visitors to take photographs and check in on Facebook, regardless of physical constraints, he said, adding that those who cannot go into the ocean or other bodies of water can still observe intertidal ecosystems or view the sea at a close distance.
In other news, the bureau said it has not received any information that Beijing would ban Chinese government officials and other Chinese from joining tours to Taiwan, nor has it heard that it would suspend the program that allows Chinese to travel to Taiwan independently.
Media have reported that China is planning to subsidize Taiwanese tour groups 5,000 yuan (US$781) to travel to China, but no travel associations or industry representatives have been told about the measure, it said.
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