The Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) has launched a campaign to promote travel to rural communities in six of the nation’s 13 national scenic areas.
New Taipei City’s Shihmen District (石門), in the Northern Coast and Guanyinshan National Scenic Area, is a popular place for flying kites, with many kitemakers setting up shop in the area.
Tourists interested in traditional agricultural practices can visit Shihmen’s Songshan Community (嵩山), where dozens of farmers grow koshikari rice in terraced paddies.
Miaoli County’s Nanjhuang Town (南庄), in the Tri-Mountain National Scenic Area, in February was certified as a member of Cittaslow International, an Italy-based “slow-food” advocacy group. The town gives visitors the opportunity to learn how to cook Hakka-style food.
Tourists interested in farming can also visit Chiayi County’s Jhungpu Township (中埔), in the Siraya National Scenic Area.
The town used to be famous for its production of betel nuts, but local farmers have gradually transformed their properties into eco-friendly enterprises, the Tourism Bureau said.
Taitung County’s Nanjhuhu Village (南竹湖) , in the East Coast National Scenic Area, offers visitors the opportunity to try Aboriginal cuisine and experience Aboriginal culture.
Visitors to the Penghu National Scenic Area can investigate the local fishing industry, while in the Kinmen National Scenic Area, tourists can visit the W27 Military Base.
Minister of Transportation and Communications Hochen Tan (賀陳旦) said the tourism industry should not keep focusing on boosting the number of international tourists every year.
The industry should start paying attention to the travel quality that tourists experience, which is based on accentuating the chief characteristic of each destination, he said.
The six places were chosen on the recommendations of their scenic area administrations, Hochen said.
What these communities have in common is their slow-paced lifestyles, which allow visitors to enjoy the warmth and friendliness of the locals, Tourism Bureau Director-General David Hsieh (謝謂君) said.
Tours in these communities cost from NT$300 to NT1,500 and require reservations, he said.
Hsieh said the bureau’s campaign is just the beginning and similar projects are planned for the nation’s other national scenic areas.
Once the reputation of these six destinations is established among local visitors, the bureau plans to market them to international tourists, he said.
International Culture and Tourism Bureau Director-General Chiu Peng-hsin (邱蓬新) said that communities such as Nanjhuang would certainly be attractive to domestic and international tourists, but that visitors would struggle to get to such areas, which are often not served by the public transport system.
“We are interested in attracting backpackers, who often seek a deeper understanding of local people’s lives,” he said, adding that the bureau needs to reconsider the route of the Taiwan Tourist Shuttle Service.
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