Taipei, Dec. 25 (CNA) Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) said he plans to prioritize his election promise to develop tourism in the southern port city, touting a much debated "Ferris wheel motel" project on Love River.
The project, which aims to build a ferris wheel that doubles as a motel overlooking the city, is a "must-do" project designed to promote Kaohsiung as a "romantic tourism" destination, Han told CNA in an exclusive interview before he assumed office on Tuesday.
Han said the design of the ferris wheel, which "requires much creativity," will appeal to tourists and help boost related business opportunities, including wedding packages, jewelry sales and the hospitality industry.
The new mayor also vowed to seek the support of the city council and introduce private investors so that no public money has to be spent on the project.
In addition to romance-based tourism, which has drawn public comments ranging from "innovative" to "reprehensible," Han said he has also been in contact with investors from Singapore and Malaysia about building outlets in Kaohsiung.
Han said another focus is medical tourism, adding that local hospitals including Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Kaoshiung Medical University Hospital and E-Da Hospital have expressed an interest in such business.
Kaohsiung will also look for more flight connections with China, including air links with Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport, he said.
Han is one of the new local government chiefs from the Kuomintang elected on Nov. 29, who openly accept the "1992 consensus" and plans to set up a "cross-strait working group" to promote trade with China.
The "1992 consensus" is a tacit agreement reached in 1992 by the then KMT government and the Communist Party of China at a meeting in Hong Kong. It agrees that there is only "one China," but allows each side to interpret what that means.
Beijing has insisted on acceptance of the "1992 consensus" as a precondition for dialogue with Taiwan, a condition President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) rejects.
Han said he is planning to visit cities in China for further cooperation, adding that there is currently no agenda to work with any specific city, but indicating that a focus on southern China is likely.
Han stressed that he will campaign to brand Kaohsiung as a provider of quality services and products, as well as an innovation-driven economy.
Commenting on the 2020 presidential election, in which it has been speculated he could run as the KMT candidate, Han said he is focused on developing Kaohsiung.
He forecast that the selection of a KMT presidential candidate would revolve around former President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), KMT Chairman Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), former New Taipei Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) and former Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平).
Chu announced his intention to run for the KMT nomination on Tuesday.