Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou said yesterday that the government will build four marinas as part of its efforts to promote tourism.
“Fishing ports can not only be a hub for commercial fishing but can also serve as bases for recreational yachting, ” Ma said at an award presentation ceremony for a tourism promotion event in which Taiwan’s top 10 most interesting fishing ports were honored.
Emphasizing Taiwan’s rich marine resources, Ma said the government will lift obsolete restrictions on the country’s coastal regions to allow tourism promotion under the premise of “no harm to the natural environment and ecology.”
Over the past 60 years, particularly during the martial law era, Taiwan imposed strict restrictions on coastal development, which Ma said has made many local people view the sea with a mixture of awe and fear.
Times have changed, however, Ma went on, adding that besides being used for commercial fishing, fishing ports and their surroundings can be developed for recreational and sightseeing purposes.
“The newly selected top 10 most interesting fishing ports are expected to attract both local and foreign visitors,” Ma said, adding that the government will build up-market docks at four of the ports — Badoutzu, which will be given a flagship class dock, and Wushih, Anping and Wuci, which will be given model class docks — for tourism.
“The marinas will be able to accommodate 190 recreational yachts,” Ma said. “By then, Taiwan will not just be Asia’s No. 1 and the world’s No. 5 yacht maker but it will also be a country open to yachting.”
Despite the global economic downturn, Ma said Taiwan had posted a nearly 13 percent annual increase in the number of inbound visitors as of the end of November, with the total number exceeding 3.94 million for the 11-month period.
Among them, the number coming for sightseeing increased 28.46 percent, while the number of tourists from Europe posted the greatest gain of 18 percent year-on-year. The numbers of tourists from the United States and New Zealand also increased 5 percent and 5.4 percent, respectively.
“The total number of inbound visitors is expected to reach an all time high of 4.2 million this year,” Ma added.
The top 10 most interesting fishing ports selection was sponsored by the Council of Agriculture. In addition to an online vote, a panel of judges composed of scholars and experts were also invited to evaluate participating ports’ facilities, resources, cultural heritage and market potential.
The fishery associations that run the winning fishing ports were each given a trophy and a cash prize of NT$200,000 (US$6,191.95).