Greater Tainan adds cultural tours to entice tourists

Staff writer, with CNA

Fri, Jan 04, 2013 - Page 5

Greater Tainan is trying to capitalize on its cultural heritage to attract foreign tourists through an introduction to the “divine creatures” seen in the city’s temples, campaign organizers said.

A tour dedicated to the spiritual and artistic presence in the city’s centuries-old temples could appeal to Westerners in particular because of Tainan’s unique historic and cultural ambiance, the 21st Century Foundation said.

The “Tour of Divine Creatures” could help explain the philosophy of the ancient Chinese, said Lee Cheng-chao, a foundation manager.

Lee said the tour would introduce visitors to the icons of the dragon and his descendants, symbols of divinity that are worshiped by locals and are often a feature of temple carvings.

For instance, he said, tourists may have a chance to appreciate Tao-tie (饕餮), a kind of sacrificial vessel that symbolizes the dragon’s fifth son, known as a gourmet who blesses people with good food and fortune.

The foundation, which already works with the Tourism Bureau in promoting Tainan’s four largest temples honoring the “Old Man Under the Moon” (yuexialaoren, 月下老人) — a mythical character from the Tang Dynasty who is considered to be the deity of love, matchmaking and marriage — said cultural tours could become a niche market for the city.

“Tainan’s tourism potential could be more fully utilized through similar cultural packages,” Lee said.