As the global tourism industry has suffered heavily amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications last week said that it would launch a low-carbon transport program to develop sustainable tourism in Taiwan.
At the Taiwan Sustainable Tourism Development Forum at the historic Red House in Taipei’s Ximending (西門町) area, Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said that next year would be Taiwan’s year of bicycle tourism and 2022 would be the year of railway tourism.
The nation should share these initiatives to attract visitors for an in-depth tourism experience, Lin said.
Taiwan has 268 peaks of at least 3,000m and at 3,952m, its tallest peak, Yushan (玉山), could be called Taiwan’s Mount Everest. The nation has about 4,000 species of indigenous plants, while its native birds, moths, butterflies and other animals, as well as migratory birds, have habitats here.
Some rural areas are known for their clear streams and rivers, abundant fish and shrimps, dancing butterflies, twittering birds, chirping crickets and buzzing cicadas.
It was for good reason that the first Portuguese sailors who set eyes on Taiwan named it Ilha Formosa — the beautiful island.
The unique culture of Aboriginal villages, along with Taiwanese folkloric activities, such as sky and water lantern festivals, Matsu pilgrimages and “ghost grappling” festivals, are among what give Taiwan its rich local colors. These are the things that foreign tourists are most eager to experience.
The world is changing fast. The intertwined themes of climate change and sustainable development are the most important issues it faces.
In line with the trends of saving energy and cutting carbon emissions are the central themes of transport policies and tourism plans.
The carbon-cutting trend of buses, bicycles, metros and walking, or BMW for short, will become the mainstream of transport and tourism when the pandemic eases.
As a guide, I have taken more than 60 tour groups to Europe.
When visiting the Netherlands, I observed that big cities, such as Amsterdam and The Hague, have dedicated bicycle lanes. Dutch people up to and including Cabinet ministers get around on bicycles, which is good for their health and cuts carbon emissions. Cycling is gaining popularity everywhere.
Responding to the call to save energy and cut carbon emissions, transport over the next couple of decades will be transformed in ways that compare to the Industrial Revolution. Gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles are being replaced by electric ones, while drones are being put to use in the military, rescue services and agriculture.
Singapore is adopting driverless taxis, while ridesharing is widespread in Germany.
These technologies will have a big influence on transport and tourism policies.
Only by embracing continuous change and innovation can Taiwan’s tourism grow and thrive.
Lawrence Chien is an English and Japanese-speaking tour guide.
Translated by Julian Clegg
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