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Talk of the day -- Ex-gold mining town captures hearts of tourists

2012/08/04 18:53:59

Even Hayao Miyazaki, a leading producer of animation films in Japan, was enchanted by the crooked hillside stone stairs that separate old wooden houses with tiled roofs in the small town of Jiufen in northern Taiwan, which was home to gold miners before World War II.

However, years before the town inspired scenes in Miyazaki's "Spirited Away" in 2001, Jiufen had already become famous through the popular 1989 Taiwan film "A City of Sadness," directed by Hou Hsiao-hsien, which touches on the 228 Massacre in 1947, a dark page in Taiwan's history.

The nostalgic scenery of the small coastal town has since fascinated visitors. In 2011, it climbed to the top of a list of tourist spots in Taiwan most-liked by foreign travelers, according to a local media report released Aug. 4.

The following are excerpts of media reports on tourism in Taiwan:

China Times:

The top-five spots for foreign sightseers are Jiufen in New Taipei, Tienshian in Hualien's Taroko National Park, Sun Moon Lake in Nantou County, Alishan in Chiayi County and Yehliu in New Taipei, in that order, according to a survey by the Tourism Bureau last year.

The National Palace Museum was listed at the sixth must-see attraction to visit, followed by Lungshan Temple in downtown Taipei, Tamshui in New Taipei, Taipei's Ximending District and the Taipei 101 skyscraper, the survey showed.

The poll was conducted on foreign travelers departing Taiwan from airports in Taoyuan, Taipei and Kaohsiung. A total of 6,009 valid samples were collected.

The survey also found that food and the local culture attracted foreigners, who said "friendly people, gourmet food, fair prices and great landscape" are among Taiwan's biggest draws.

United Daily News:

As of July 31, over 107,994 Chinese people have traveled to Taiwan for sightseeing without joining tour groups since Taiwan opened the doors to independent Chinese tourists on June 28.

In July alone, the number of individual Chinese travelers reached 15,520, or 501 a day on average, according to the National Immigration Agency's (NIA's) latest statistics.

NIA Deputy Director-General Ho Jung-tsun revealed that the doors for independent Chinese travelers to tour Taiwan will be opened wider by the end of this year.

Besides the 10 Chinese cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Xiamen, from which Chinese people are allowed to travel to Taiwan without having to join tour groups, Jinan, Xian, Fuzhou and Shenzhen will be included on the list by the end of the year, he said.

The number of Chinese people visiting Taiwan in tour groups has surpassed 1 million as of July 31 this year, the immigration agency said, predicting that the number of Chinese visitors to Taiwan, traveling either in tour groups or independently, will reach 2 million this year.

Chinese travelers contribute a lot to the development of Taiwan's tourism industry, immigration officials said.

Each Chinese visitor spends around NT$5,000 (US$167) per day during their stay in Taiwan, which means they spend some NT$20,000 in total during their trips here, they added. (Aug. 4, 2012)

(By Elizabeth Hsu)