Marine park office to start collecting conservation fees

NATURAL BEAUTY::New rules allow tourist and scenic destinations to charge fees of NT$30 to NT$200 that must be used on conservation efforts

By Liu Yu-ching, Huang Ming-tang, Chen Yan-ting and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

Sat, Nov 11, 2017 - Page 3

The Marine National Park Headquarters, which manages the South Penghu Marine National Park and Dongsha Atoll National Park, plans to start collecting a conservation fee from visitors next year during the peak tourism season.

The change is to be made in accordance with regulations passed by the Tourism Bureau last month that allow agencies that manage tourist and scenic destinations to collect a conservation fee of NT$30 to NT$200 for designated areas, it said.

National park agencies can apply for designation as natural scenic sites and charge a conservation fee, the Tourism Bureau’s technical division said.

However, the fee will only be collected for the designated area and not the whole island, it said, adding that the fee must go toward conservation efforts.

Details have not been finalized, Marine National Park Headquarters Director Hong Chi-yuan (洪啟源) said, adding that he would seek advice from local residents about the sites and charges.

East Coast National Scenic Area Administration Director Hung Tung-tao (洪東濤) said he was considering the issue, but that he would like to start by implementing a conservation fee on Green Island (綠島).

“Lanyu (蘭嶼) is not a tourist area, thus there is no legal foundation for collecting a conservation fee unless the township signs its own ordinance,” Lanyu Township (蘭嶼) Mayor Siyaman Jialamow said.

“The county government has no such plans,” Taitung County Mayor Chen Chin-hu (陳金虎) said.

Authorities responsible for other tourist destinations, such as the S-shaped underwater pathway known as “Moses Parts the Sea” in Penghu County’s Kueibishan Recreation Area, said they are still carefully considering the issue.

Pingtung County’s Siaoliouciou (小琉球), which has become a popular holiday destination among local tourists, is debating whether to follow suit.

Five wetlands in Siaoliociou’s Dapeng Bay National Scenic Area have been designated as natural scenic areas.

However, the county fears that a conservation fee would discourage travelers from visiting, and has yet to reach a decision.

“I would be happy to see Siaoliouciou collect a conservation fee, but it has to go toward benefitting Siaoliouciou’s conservation and tourism,” Pingtung Department of Information and Tourism Director Huang Chien-chia (黃建嘉) said.

“When it makes plans, the central government should also explain how the funds are to be used,” Huang said.

Additional reporting by Hsiao Yu-hsin and Hsu Yi-ping