Panel names Liuho, Shilin 'most gorgeous' night markets

Taipei, Aug. 24 (CNA) Kaohsiung's Liuho Night Market and Taipei's Shilin Night Market maintained their positions as Taiwan's most gorgeous night markets in the final stage of a "most special night market" competition, the Tourism Bureau said Tuesday.
Liuho won all six categories in the contest based on an online poll completed Aug. 15, but a panel of seven judges, whose opinions accounted for 60 percent of the final scores, distributed their votes among several markets.
The panel also named Liuho the most popular market.
Shilin, which was in second place for all six categories in the online poll, tied with Liuho for most gorgeous in the final rankings.
Keelung's Miaokou Night Market and Luodong Night Market in Yilan emerged as the most visitor-friendly, while Miaokou and Fengchia Night Market in Taichung City were selected as the best for food.
Taipei's Huaxi Street Night Market, also known as Snake Alley, was named the easiest to shop at.
Markets named most gorgeous, most visitor-friendly, best for food tastes and easiest to shop at received NT$100,000 each. Liuho received an additional NT$50,000 for winning in the most popular category.
The team of judges consisted of experts in cultural circles, the food industry, foreigners living in Taiwan, bloggers and representatives from the bureau. Although they had also been tasked with selecting the most environmentally friendly market in the country, no market was selected because none of them were up to standards, according to a bureau official.
The judges also recommended Chiayi City's Wenhua Road Night Market as the most unique old night market, Taipei Ningxia Night Market as the one with the most innovative marketing strategy, Tainan Garden Night Market as the most modern and Chunghua Road Night Market in Kaohsiung County's Fengshan as the most neighborhood-friendly.
At a function to unveil the results, President Ma Ying-jeou described Taiwan's night markets as a good representation of the country's grassroots culture and said the government has taken the food industry as an emerging service industry for prioritized promotion at home and abroad.
Ma said that night markets play a major role in driving Taiwan's tourism industry and help greatly in promoting Taiwan's food internationally.
Ma said that Taiwan has seen a boom in tourism since he took office in 2008 and that the country has 658 newly built or revamped hotels. He also said there were plans to invest NT$50 billion to build another 31 hotels and create more than 7,000 jobs. The number of foreign visitors is expected to reach 5.2 million this year, he added.
(By Chen Shun-hsieh and Y.L. Kao)