Sat, Aug 04, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Ministry looking to improve mountain hikes for foreigners

By Jake Chung  /  Staff writer, with CNA

Restrictions on foreign tourists who want to climb Yushan (玉山), Hsuehshan (雪山) and Hehuanshan (合歡山) could be loosened, possibly by adopting policies similar to Japan’s regulation of visits to Mount Fuji, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications said.

Taiwan’s mountains are attractive not only to local climbers, but are internationally renowned, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chen Man-li (陳曼麗) said at a public hearing on Tuesday.

However, trifling paperwork for applications, difficulties with regard to traveling to the mountains and the crude boarding facilities provided at higher altitudes, as well as decentralized management by the agencies involved, all give foreign climbers pause, she said.

Restricted mountain areas that are favored by foreign travelers include Yushan’s summit, the east side of the main summit of Hsuehshan and the north peak of Hehuanshan, ministry special consultant Cheng Chih-hung (鄭智鴻) said.

Plenty of people are interested in climbing Taiwan’s highest peak, but travel agencies need to be able to guarantee lodging about a year in advance, he said.

Lodging is the key to whether hiking tours sell, Cheng said, citing a Taiwanese travel agency that could not guarantee accommodation for a Taiwanese group looking to hike in Austria, causing the deal to fall through.

The ministry is considering adopting a hiking application system similar to the one for Mount Fuji, Cheng said.

The Construction and Planning Agency and the Forestry Bureau would be asked to investigate the needs of foreign hikers, he said.

The agencies are expected to enhance facilities, either by increasing capacity or by seeking alternative accommodation options, and improve foreign visitors’ hiking experience.

The Tourism Bureau would help with promotion efforts, Cheng said, adding that all measures are to be guided by environmental sustainability considerations.

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