TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The charm of cherry blossoms is quelling at least some fears of the novel coronavirus, as exemplified by the occupancy rate of hotels on southwestern Taiwan's Alishan.
Hotel rooms on Alishan for weekends and holidays have been fully booked from the 228 Peace Memorial Day holiday to mid-April, CNA reported.
The Alishan flower season will last 32 days from Tuesday until April 10. Even though the opening day was not a holiday and saw rain, Alishan was still packed with thousands of visitors who came for the mountainside cherry blooms, the report said.
The news agency quoted Liao Ching-tai (廖景泰), chairman of a local hotel association, as saying that during flower season, most hotels on the mountain are fully booked for weekends and holidays, and the booking rates for weekdays are around 60 to 70 percent. However, according to Liao, the difference this year is that all the hotel guests are individual travelers instead of members of tour groups.
Chiayi Forest District Office Director Chang Tai (張岱) was quoted as saying that the Alishan Forest Recreation Area has nearly 3,000 cherry trees, which belong to 31 species. Due to recent mild weather, the cherry blossoms are in good condition, and the Yoshino cherry is expected to be in full bloom by mid-March.
During the coronavirus outbreak, people ought to get out of the city more and into the outdoors, said Chang, adding that the Alishan Forest Recreation Area is terrific for getting some fresh air.
On the opening day of flower season, a steam locomotive pulling cars made from juniper wood shuttled through cherry forests between Alishan Station and Chaoping Station, eliciting many photos.
If planning to visit, please note that temperatures on Alishan this time of year can fall to as low as 10 degrees Celsius at night. Additionally, as a measure taken to prevent the spread of the virus, visitors are required to wear face masks on the Alishan shuttle bus.
For more information about the Alishan flower season and related activities, please refer to this site (Chinese).
(Forest Bureau photos)