Dapeng Bridge drawing tourists with light show

MONEY SPINNER::Until a few years ago there were no guesthouses or private lodgings in Donggang, but now there are 12, with several hotels slated to open soon

By Yeh Jung-chien and Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter, with Staff writer

Sat, Jan 12, 2013 - Page 3

Already famous for its coastal scenery and seafood, Dapeng Bay (大鵬灣) and the fishing port of Donggang (東港) in Pingtung County are becoming bigger draws for tourists thanks to a color LED installation which illuminates Dapeng Bridge (大鵬橋) at night with a dynamic light show.

Opened in March 2011, the bridge spans an estuary in Donggang. Since then, the number of tourists visiting the town has doubled, according to officials at the Dapeng Bay National Scenic Area Administration.

When the 2,600-LED installation for the bridge was completed in October last year, the sparkling multicolored light show was an instant hit with locals and visitors, the official said, adding that the bridge has become a new venue for a leisurely stroll in the evening or a romantic rendezvous for young couples.

Officials estimated that the new tourist attraction would bring in more than NT$10 billion (US$346 million) in sales and derived financial benefits to the area’s shops, hospitality services, restaurants and guesthouses.

The bascule-type bridge can open to allow ships to pass through the harbor’s outlet to the sea. The operation takes 20 minutes and starts at 4:30pm on weekends and holidays, officials said. On such occasions, viewing spots around Dapeng Bay are usually crowded with hundreds of onlookers.

With a different color display theme every night, including a special light show every hour on the hour, the bridge is a draw for sightseers, officials said.

Statistics from the Dapeng Bay National Scenic Area Administration show that prior to the completion of the bridge, the area around Dapeng harbor had about 200,000 visitors per year. The figure for last year was an estimated 600,000, the agency said.

Calculating that each visitor spends NT$300 during a visit, an official said the local economy benefitted by at least NT$180 million.

“The total cost of the bridge’s construction was just under NT$1.8 billion. The electricity bill for the bridge-opening operation and the LED light show is about NT$30,000 per month, but [the bridge] has generated a lot of tourism and business benefits. It was a small investment for a big financial return,” an agency official said.

A few years ago there were no guesthouses or private lodgings in Donggang, but now there are 12, with several new tourist hotels scheduled to open soon.

Lin Chia-chin (林佳進), a former chairman of a local community organization, is entering the guesthouse business and also acts as a tourist guide, taking visitors to the area’s beaches to catch sand crabs and observe the fauna and flora of the local parks and wetlands.

“Most of the infrastructure is completed in the Dapeng Bay area, but tourism programs are still lacking,” he said. “The planning could incorporate ecotourism guided trips, leisure cruises and activities on the water. I’d suggest the tourism administration add more recreational facilities to attract tourists.”