Taipei, April 6 (CNA) Tourism officials said Friday that the number of cyclists in the Sun Moon Lake area of central Taiwan has surged during the past few weeks, driven by a CNN report that said the scenic area is one of the world's top 10 cycle routes.
In a March 15 article titled "Cycling Routes That'll Take Your Breath Away" on CNNGo.com, the area around Sun Moon Lake was ranked No. 5 behind the Great Ocean Road in Australia, the Udaipur City tour in India, the Karakoram Highway between China and Pakistan, and the Route of the Hiawatha in the United States.
The unexpected media exposure has triggered an overwhelming response from both local and foreign cyclists, according to the Sun Moon Lake National Scenic Area Administration.
"We have seen the number of cyclists doubled on holidays, with 30 percent more on regular days," said Chang Jenn-chyan, director of theadministration, who added that there has been an increasing presence of foreign cyclists.
The roughly 20 bike rental shops in the region have seen a similartrend, according to Merida Industry Co., Taiwan's No.2 bicycle maker, which is working with the administration on a series of promotions.
On April 29, for instance, an event will take place in which 4,000 cyclists will ride around the lake, said Cash Yang, a Merida project manager.
"The recent biking fever is unprecedented for us," Yang said, adding that Merida currently leases about 100-300 bikes per day at its Xiangshan Visitor Center.
Encouraged by the boom, Chang said the administration is stepping up efforts to capitalize on its now "world-recognized"10-km bike route.
Chang explained that while annual ridership of tour boats andthe cable car at Sun Moon Lake have dropped significantly in recent years, the number of bike rentals has climbed to about 1,000 per day since the CNN report.
"It seems that we have a solid market base of cyclists," he said. "We are preparing travel packages that combine biking with the region's aboriginal culture and diverse ecology," he went on.
In terms of infrastructure, Chang said, further construction is likely to connect bike routes in nearby Jiji Township to offer more diversified and accessible routes.
(By Lee Hsin-Yin)