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Hot air balloon fest sees fewer visitors at opening

07/06/2024 09:28 PM
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The 2024 Taiwan International Balloon Festival kicks off in Taitung County Saturday. CNA photo July 6, 2024
The 2024 Taiwan International Balloon Festival kicks off in Taitung County Saturday. CNA photo July 6, 2024

Taipei, July 6 (CNA) The annual Taiwan International Balloon Festival kicked off Saturday in Taitung's Luye Township with fewer visitors than usual, as tourism has been significantly affected since the April earthquake in neighboring Hualien County.

According to Taitung County government, there were around 15,000 visitors at the opening, mainly young adults and families with young children.

It was estimated that the number of visitors at this year's opening was about 30 percent lower than in previous years.

Pan Kuei-lan (潘貴蘭), vice chairperson of Taitung's Luminous Hot Spring Resort & Spa and former Taitung Tourism Association head, said although the crowds are smaller than in previous years, tourists are gradually returning, and she hopes that the 45-day event will help bring tourists back to Taitung.

CNA photo July 6, 2024
CNA photo July 6, 2024

After the opening ceremony, 21 hot air balloons of different designs, including a panda from Japan and a Mazu balloon created by Taitung government and Taitung City Tianhou Temple, took to the sky, marking the start of the festival.

Taitung County Magistrate Yao Ching-ling (饒慶鈴) said the festival this year will feature more than 40 hot air balloons from 14 countries.

These include France, North Macedonia, Canada and Ukraine.

In addition, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Hello Kitty, the festival will collaborate with Sanrio Taiwan to present 12 Night Glow Concerts, the most ever in the festival's history, said Pu Ming-cheng (卜敏正), chief of Taitung government's transportation and tourism development department.

In addition, eight of the Night Glow Concerts will feature drone shows employing up to 500 drones.

This year's Taiwan International Balloon Festival is taking place from Saturday to Aug. 19 at Luye Highland.

(By Tyson Lu and Bernadette Hsiao)

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CNA photo July 6, 2024
CNA photo July 6, 2024
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