Hot spring fes­ti­val kicks off in Ping­tung County

The China Post - - LOCAL -

Tai­wan kicked off its an­nual hot spring fes­ti­val on Fri­day in one of the is­land’s four main hot spring ar­eas Si­chongxi, Ping­tung County as the gov­ern­ment and in­dus­try of­fi­cials hope that the four-month­long fair cel­e­brated across the coun­try will boost tourism.

De­spite its rel­a­tively small size, Tai­wan has one of the high­est con­cen­tra­tions and great­est va­ri­ety of ther­mal springs in the world, due to its lo­ca­tion next to an oceanic trench and vol­canic sys­tem in a tec­tonic col­li­sion zone.

There are more than 100 ther­mal springs here, rang­ing from hot springs to cold springs, mud springs, and seabed hot springs.

The Ja­panese colo­nial rulers de­vel­oped Tai­wan’s hot springs in the early 1900s and brought with them Ja­pan’s on­sen cul­ture of spring soak­ing. Although the hot spring cul­ture was not pro­moted af­ter the Re­pub­lic of China be­gan gov­ern­ing Tai­wan in 1945, the gov­ern­ment be­gan pro­mot­ing hot springs in 1999, see­ing it as a way to at­tract do­mes­tic and over­seas tourists.

It is hoped that the an­nual fes­ti­val — called the Tai­wan Hot Spring & Fine Cui­sine Car­ni­val — will help pro­mote a to­tal of 19 famed hot spring ar­eas in Tai­wan — in­clud­ing Wu­lai in New Taipei City and Guguan in Taichung City — said David Hsieh, di­rec­tor gen­eral of the Tourism Bureau on Fri­day.

“Hot springs have be­come a ma­jor tourism prod­uct we want to sell to the world,” Hsieh said dur­ing the in­au­gu­ra­tion cer­e­mony.

To bet­ter ap­peal to for­eign tourists, the tourism bureau said, it has given out for the first time a to­tal of 30,000 coupons for hot spring soaks to for­eign in­de­pen­dent trav­el­ers at travel fairs over­seas.

Those pre­sent­ing the tick­ets could en­joy free ac­cess to public pools at ma­jor hot spring ar­eas across Tai­wan dur­ing the fes­ti­val, the bureau said.

It is hoped that the coupons will help en­tice for­eign­ers to travel to Tai­wan.

“We hope that in the fu­ture, ev­ery for­eign tourist who comes to Tai­wan can try our hot spring,” said Chang Jung-nan, chair­man of the Hot Spring Tourism As­so­ci­a­tion Tai­wan.

Chang said the as­so­ci­a­tion plans to first tar­get trav­el­ers from South­east Asia by launch­ing more pro­mo­tional cam­paigns such as coupon dis­tri­bu­tion, and ap­ply the ex­pe­ri­ence learned from that rel­a­tively small re­gion to the global mar­ket.

Like the Ja­panese, Tai­wanese be­lieve soak­ing in the min­eral-rich hot springs brings health ben­e­fits, in­clud­ing for the treat­ment of chronic fa­tigue, eczema or arthri­tis.

For more in­for­ma­tion about the fes­ti­val, go to http://tai­wan­hot­spring.net (Chi­nese).

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