EVA Air apologizes for commercial's impact on farmers

Taipei, July 7 (CNA) A top executive of EVA Airways, Taiwan's second largest airline, apologized to rice growers in Chihshang Township of Taitung County on Monday for the impact caused by a commercial that was shot there. EVA Air Chairman Chang Kuo-wei told Taitung County Magistrate Justin Huang during a visit to the county that he felt sorry after seeing the commercial hurt the farmers, whose agricultural activities were disrupted by the constant inflow of tourist vehicles. "It's not right that we borrowed the landscape but caused inconvenience (to the locals)," Chang said as he called for travelers to treat Chihshang with love. The popular commercial, featuring Takeshi Kaneshiro, a Japanese actor whose mother is Taiwanese, highlights the scenic landscape of extensive green rice paddies in the township. The road along the fields, which Kaneshiro toured by bicycle before he came to a stop under a tree in the commercial, has become a big hit with tourists since the commercial was released last year. Tourists have swarmed to Brown's Road -- now nicknamed Takeshi Kaneshiro Road -- that was described as a "green road of paradise." The surging visits, however, have forced local farmers to fight tourists for use of the road during the harvest season. Some tourists have even been seen walking into paddies close to the "Takeshi Kaneshiro tree" to take photos. Following complaints by local farmers, the county government banned non-agricultural vehicles from accessing the road during the harvest season from July 1 to Aug. 31. It marks the first traffic restriction the county has ever run on a countryside road. (By Tyson Lu and Elizabeth Hsu)