Pratas to remain closed to tourists: planning agency

By Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff writer, with CNA

Thu, May 23, 2019 - Page 2

Pratas Island (Dongsha Island, 東沙島) would not be open for tourism for another two to three years, Construction and Planning Agency Chief Secretary Wang Tung-yung (王東永) said yesterday.

Transportation and public facilities on the island are not sufficient to accommodate tourists, he told a news conference in Taipei.

While the government’s policy has not changed, it must take into consideration the reality of the environmental problem, he added.

Measures to improve transportation on the island are under way, Wang said.

A sewage system is being designed, but a contractor has yet to be found, he said, adding that it would take two to three years for the system to be built.

As the island is far from Taiwan proper — an hour’s flight — it takes time to deliver the materials and equipment needed to build the system, Wang said.

While the main purpose of opening the island to the public is to develop ecotourism, the Ministry of the Interior agency also needs to carefully consider how the environment would be protected, he added.

The ministry in January said that it planned to conduct a trial this year transporting tourists to the island in three stages via chartered flights.

Minister of the Interior Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) has said that he would announce the opening of the island last month or this month.

He visited the island earlier this year to check on the feasibility of tourism there.