The Tourism Bureau is assessing the feasibility of capping the number of people allowed to visit Orchid Island (Lanyu, 蘭嶼), Green Island (綠島) and Siaoliouciou Island (小琉球), Director-General Chou Yung-hui (周永暉) said.
“Between ecological conservation and tourism, society has gradually adopted the concept of a tourism cap,” Chou said, adding that the bureau hopes to find a balance between tourism development and the quality of tourism.
As people become more environmentally conscious, an increasing number of popular travel destinations have seen local residents call for limits on the number of tourists in their areas.
Photo: Hsiao Yu-hsin, Taipei Times
On Orchid Island, where tourism — and consequently the amount of trash — surges during the summer, residents first proposed capping the number of visitors two to three years ago.
Siaoliouciou Island, which had more than 1 million visitors last year and has seen its intertidal zone damaged, is scheduled to host a panel for local residents this month to discuss a tourism cap.
Turtle Island (Gueishan Island, 龜山島), Yehliu Geopark (野柳地質公園) in New Taipei City, and Kinmen County’s Dadan Island (大膽島) and Lieyu Township (烈嶼) have already adopted such caps, Chou said.
The bureau is now considering other areas and will discuss caps on islands with the public at the Modern Tourism Forum, he said.
During its peak tourism season last year, Siaoliouciou Island broke its daily water usage record of 6,000 tonnes, while surges in electricity usage led to a power outage on parts of the island, said Chen Wen-yu (陳文玉), the director of a tourism association on the island.
There should be a cap on the number of tourists and visitor activities should also be spread out instead of concentrating in the intertidal zone, Chen said.
Introducing a cap for Siaoliouciou could lead to protests because not many people visit the island on weekdays and tourism is largely concentrated on weekends or holidays, Liouciou Fishermen’s Association chief executive Tsai Pao-hsing (蔡寶興) said.
Now that Siaoliouciou Island has become a prime tourist attraction, the government should reassess its plans for land use and reduce the amount of farmland on the island, he added.
Lanyu Township Representative Council Chairman Chang chin-shang (張錦商) said he backs the idea of a cap, but also believes there should be supplementary measures and communication between the tourism industry and local representatives.
Many visitors to Orchid Island generate large of amounts of trash and disturb the environment, and the island cannot sustain such practices, he said.
Some day-trippers use the public restrooms, leave their trash and depart without spending any money on the island, he said, adding that if a cap is introduced, he hopes it would promote two-night stays on the island.
Lyudao Township Representative Council Chairman Ho Fu-hsiang (何富祥) said the number of visitors to Green Island has dramatically increased in the past three to five years.
If a cap is introduced in the summer, the peak tourism season, and no one visits in the winter, the policy would be criticized by island residents, he said.
The bureau should disclose its basis for evaluating the feasibility of a cap and protect legal hotels and guest houses instead of allowing the continued construction of illegal guest houses, he said.
The bureau has also tried to curb overcrowding by encouraging people to visit popular areas at different times throughout the day, Chou said.
For example, last month it allowed nighttime visits to Yehliu Geopark’s “Queen’s Head” (女王頭) for the first time, he said.
Additional reporting by Yeh Yung-chien
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