Sat, Sep 15, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Siaoliouciou tourism shows strength

By Chen Yen-ting and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A ferry crashes through a wave as it leaves the Donggang Port in Pingtung County on Aug. 27 on its way to Siaoliouciou Island.

Photo: Yeh Yung-chien, Taipei Times

Pingtung County might weather tough times for the tourism industry — especially in traditional hotspots such as Kenting — with scenery alone, if the increase in visitors to Siaoliouciou Island (小琉球) is an indicator, the Dapeng Bay National Scenic Area Administration said yesterday.

The agency released statistics showing an increase in July of 14,000 visitors to the island, or nearly 25 percent, compared with the same month last year, while visitors to Kenting National Park declined slightly.

The agency said there were about 50,000 visitors to Siaoliouciou — which is also known as Lamay Island — last month, a drop of nearly 22 percent, or 13,000, compared with August last year, but added that it was primarily because of inclement weather that prevented ferries from leaving the harbor.

Kenting reported 370,000 tourists last month, a decline of 20 percent, or 110,000, compared with the same month last year, the agency said.

Declining tourists numbers have prompted people to sell property in the Kenting area, the agency said.

However, tourism to Siaoliouciou is still high compared with the past several Augusts, it said.

In light of the traditional taboos associated with Ghost Month — which ended on Sunday — and plenty of rain, the island has done superbly, especially when compared with the performance of the tourism industry overall, the agency said.

Hostel owner Tseng Yu-wen (曾毓文) said that Siaoliouciou is reliant on snorkeling and other water-based activities.

Ghost Month superstitions regarding water usually leads to a decline in tourist numbers, Tseng said.

However, Ghost Month this year was outside peak summer travel times, while a lack of typhoons last month led to more visitors compared with 2016, Tseng said.

Visitor numbers to the island’s four main scenic areas should only be considered a reference, as many people do not go to them, Tseng said.

Siaoliouciou is easily accessible by a 20-minute ferry ride from Donggang Township (東港), Pingtung County, on calm seas, the agency said, adding that its natural scenery and fauna, including green sea turtles, has drawn incresing numbers of tourists.

The island is not as reliant on Chinese tourists as other areas, it said.

However, the agency is looking into how to balance tourism and ecological sustainability, as the increase in visitor numbers has led to the accelerated destruction of the natural environment, as well as the pollution of local sea zones, it said.

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