Southern Taiwan Tourism Guide launched

The event is jointly organized by the Southwest Coast National Scenic Area Administration under the Tourism Bureau of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, and Nankunshen Daitaian Temple, with sponsorship by Yunlin County Government, Chiayi County Government, and Tainan City Government, as well as Taiwan Salt Works.

During the festival, over 80 suppliers of famous special flavor snacks, selected by the three local governments, will jointly exhibit a variety of special flavors, from traditional cakes to the most popular snacks, to cater to visitors.

There will also be a series of performances, including grand drum-beating performance by famous Jyou-Tian Folk Drums and Arts Group. Some interesting games and DIY salt-related activities will also be available to parents and children.

In addition, the Southwest Coast National Scenic Area Administration has also collaborated with Flying Top Tour, Golden Founders Travel Service, and Singing Travel Service to launch several travel packages for local people to choose from during the said salt-themed festival.

The salt industry along the southwest coast of Taiwan enjoys a long history dating back to the Ming and early Qing periods. The industry was based on solar evaporation of seawater using complex and highly skilled techniques. The salt industry was one of Taiwan's biggest industries for nearly 340 years. It contributed greatly to the country's economic development and provided an essential product in people's daily lives. Although Taiwan has not been a major salt producer since 2002, the Southwest Coast National Scenic Area Administration maintains a traditional working salt field to preserve the history of this important industry in Taiwan.

Although winter is yet to arrive, Xia Tingting has been shopping for clothes to wear in spring, when she goes to Taiwan, to attend an outdoor Spring Scream Music Festival on the island's southern beach resort Kenting in April.

The 27-year-old Chongqing native, for whom the music carnival is going to be a stop in a do-it-yourself journey, if all goes according to plan, said she gave up a chance to visit the island with her parents three years ago.

"I prefer making travel plans more flexible," she said. "Visiting traditional scenic spots doesn't have much appeal for young people like me.

"I prefer to wander around the streets in Taipei and taste street snacks that other people have recommended online."

It's going to take a while yet before her dream is fulfilled, as Chongqing residents are not eligible to visit Taiwan as individual tourists. But this situation is expected to change.

In June, Taiwan first opened its door to 290 mainland individual tourists, but only residents of three selected cities - Beijing, Shanghai and Fujian's Xiamen - were allowed to go.

About four months later, the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council announced that the mainland tourism authority has proposed to include more mainland cities in the trial program, without giving specifics.

There's going to be an addition of two to five cities on the new list. Tianjin, Nanjing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Chongqing and Hangzhou are the most competitive candidates, the Guangzhou-based Nanfang Daily reported, citing insiders as saying.

Liu Yanxian, deputy head of the marketing department of Chongqing tourist bureau, told China Daily that the city was highly likely to edge past the others.

"Chongqing is a metropolis in Southwest China having many historical connections with the island," he said. "And the city has established direct air links with Taiwan a long time ago."

Ma Yiliang, a researcher at China Tourism Academy, said there were several reasons why different mainland cities were competing to send visitors to Taiwan.

"By pushing forward individual tourism, the local government can win the public's favor. The program could also bring economic benefits and improve the image of the concerned city," Ma said.

However, some tourism agencies were skeptical about the necessity of introducing a new tourism program at the moment.

"The turnout of individual tourists was far less than expected on earlier occasions," said Allen Y. L. Hai, chairman of the Taiwan-based Pro-Tour Express. "I don't believe adding more cities could change the situation."

Statistics from the Taiwan Strait Tourism Association show that in June, the first month Taiwan opened its doors to individual tourists from the mainland, only 633 visited the island.

The market share of the mainland's individual tourists was quite small compared to that of group tours, numbering 3,000 to 4,000 people a day, Hai said. "I suggest expanding the group tourism market first, rather than rushing to open more cities for individual tours."

Ma said the program hasn't taken off that well as the application procedure for individual tours is not convenient, and the cost is usually higher than that of going as part of a group.

"Taiwan tourism authorities should develop more travel products, and offer something different from group tour routes," Ma said.

Last year, about 1.66 million mainland tourists visited Taiwan, while the number of mainland tourists traveling to Hong Kong reached 22.68 million


Good news for those who wish to travel in southern Taiwan: a thorough manual of what's fun in southern Taiwan, complete with recommended local delicacies, was launched yesterday, with President Ma Ying-jeou as the spokesman of the guidebook.

Published by the Executive Yuan Southern Taiwan Joint Service Center, the 2011 Southern Taiwan Tour Passport is a compilation of popular tourist attractions, local bed and breakfast places, renowned dining options, and famous souvenir recommendations of Chiayi City, Chiayi County, Tainan City, Kaohsiung City, Pingtung County, and Penghu County.

The president, commending the compilation of the tour passport, eagerly offered insight to future editions of the guidebook: packaging history with tourism, he pointed out, would be the best way to tie in cultural depth to the vacation aspect of southern Taiwan.

For example, introducing the origins of the “eastern beauty tea” (東方美人茶) would lead to an anecdote of a Japanese general during the period when Taiwan was under Japanese rule, which would further coincide with the Mudan Incident (牡丹社事件, a Japanese retaliation in 1874 to the Taiwanese aboriginal people's self-defense action in 1871) and the plot of “Seediq Bale” (賽德克,巴萊), a recently launched movie directed by a local director. Combining such stories with the southern Taiwan tourism industry, Ma concluded, could be very beneficial in enriching the Taiwanese tourism experience.

“The Tour Passport was compiled so tourists are saved from the trouble of fumbling with multiple guide books while trying to enjoy the beauty and rich cultural heritage of Southern Taiwan,” Lwo shih-hsiung (羅世雄), executive director of the Southern Taiwan Joint Service Center, explained, adding that all attractions and recommendations were collected not only from the Michelin Guide, but also from local bloggers who knew every corner of Southern Taiwan by heart.

(Source: 16 September 2011)

Kunshen Wangye's Salt for Peace Festival to celebrate ROC centennial on Nov. 12-13

The 2011 Kunshen Wangye's Salt for Peace Festival will be held Nov. 12-13 at Tainan's Nankunshen Daitian Temple to celebrate the 100th founding anniversary of the  of the Republic of China.


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