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Overtourism a blessing and curse for Taiwan’s outlying islands

Domestic tourism has taken off because of a coronavirus clampdown on flights

Orchid Island overwhelmed with visitors

Orchid Island overwhelmed with visitors (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Overtourism has put a strain on Taiwan’s outlying islands and placed local governments in a dilemma about how to strike a balance between tourism promotion and environmental conservation.

Green Island (Ludao) and Orchid Island (Lanyu), which are both volcanic islands off the southeastern coast of Taiwan, have seen an influx of visitors during the summer break thanks to fine weather during the coronavirus pandemic that has clamped down on international travel.

Over 100,000 tourist arrivals were recorded between July 15-30 on Green Island, an island of 15 square kilometers and a population of just 2,600. Streets have been flooded with motorcycles and stores will run out of stock soon, reported CNA.

Locals have complained about the environment and daily life being disrupted by the overwhelming number of travelers. Sewage treatment issues also badly need addressing to prevent the natural habitats of the intertidal zone from being polluted, one eco-minded resident pointed out.

This has revived talk of imposing a cap on tourist numbers for Green Island, which has been floated over the past decade but faced fierce opposition. Some believe measures should be taken to transform the island into an international resort, while others say the future of local tourism should be decided by the market.

Whether or not to set a limit or charge on visitors needs further assessment and will not be put into action before a consensus has been reached, said East Coast National Scenic Area Administration.

The offshore archipelago of Penghu is also mulling charging fees for visitors as an answer to overtourism. A NT$50 (US$1.70) to NT$100 per person could be implemented as soon as 2022.

Overtourism a blessing and curse for Taiwan’s outlying islands
Snorkeling at Green Island (Facebook, @ecnsa photo)

Overtourism a blessing and curse for Taiwan’s outlying islands
Tourists arrive on Green Island (CNA photo)