Foreign nationals urge more accessibility to nature trails in Taiwan
Taipei, March 28 (CNA) A group of foreign nationals, including foreign officials, visited two nature trails in the mountain forests of Taipingshan on Saturday, calling for better international exchanges and accessibility for foreign travelers who do not speak Mandarin.
The group, which included Rene Beerepoot, deputy at the Dutch office in Taipei, and Rupert Cao, deputy director of trade and investment at the Canadian trade office in Taipei, were impressed by Taiwan’s diverse wildlife and natural landscapes.
The representatives were introduced to the ancient cypress forest trail in the mountains of northeastern Taiwan along with overseas travel bloggers and journalists.
“I think you’ve got some really spectacular scenery,” said Beerepoot, who was taking part with his family on the trip that Taiwan’s Forestry Bureau (FB) organized as part of the government’s efforts to promote ecotourism amid COVID-19.
Cao, a travel fanatic who has toured the island with his family for the past few years, agreed, adding that he was amazed that Taiwan is “small but has such a wide range” of natural landscapes.
“Before I came here, I thought, oh, it was going to be a tropical island. Geographically, however, it’s very diverse. I was very surprised,” he said.
Cao said he was all for the idea of forging a “sisterhood” between trails in Taiwan and Canada and perhaps other countries as well.
FB deputy director general Lin Hao-chen (林 澔 貞) said the office selected three of the roughly 130 trails it operates – the Cypress Trail in Taipingshan, the Tefuye Historic Trail in Alishan, and the Nenggao Cross-Ridge Old Trail (the latter two are in central Taiwan) – to promote and test the market.
“These trails are all unique in their own way, presenting different types of challenges that we believe will serve the interests of different hikers,” Lin said, adding that there will be trips similar to Saturday in the future.
With border controls remaining tight in Taiwan, Lin hopes these campaigns will initially target expats whose personal experiences could potentially generate further demand from their home countries.
Some of the other trails worth promoting in Taiwan are eco-craft trails, which are built from locally sourced materials and maintained using methods that minimize the impact on nature – she pointed out.
The Taiwan Thousand Miles Trail Association (TMI Trail), which shared its knowledge of local eco-craft trails with representatives, said it will work with the office and reach out to other countries to jointly introduce such trails.
According to Chou Sheng-hsin (周 聖 心), the executive director of the association, this could include joint marketing of the trails by the participating parties – via physical bulletin boards along the trails or virtual introductions on websites.
However, some foreigners would like more detailed and integrated travel information to be made available to non-Mandarin speaking travelers.
Ami Barnes, a UK nature lover and travel blogger who has lived in Taiwan for five years, said while everyone she has met who promotes Taiwan is extremely passionate, the overall effect of her work is undermined by small mistakes like multiple spelling of place names .
“There are so many great ideas out there, but the little details are sometimes forgotten,” she said, adding that non-Mandarin speakers foreigners would like to see more help, for example with information about public transport.
“Some areas like Yangmingshan and Alishan are easily accessible by transportation and there is clear information on how to get there, but others are much more difficult to get to,” she said.
Cao said he would like to see more “one-stop-shop” services from Taiwan’s Tourism Bureau so that sometimes they are not carried over from major web portals to more pages that sometimes contain inconsistent information.
(By Lee Hsin-Yin)
End item / AW