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Tourism Bureau plans to promote special tours for Chinese seniors

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan's Tourism Bureau said yesterday it is planning unique tour packages targeted at tens of millions of senior citizens from China and will invite a Chinese delegation to Taiwan next month to learn more about the proposed itineraries.

Tourism Bureau Director-General Janice Lai said the focus of the senior tours will be “walking slower, eating softer, living better, and exploring deeper” to give seniors a quality travel experience instead of forcing them to see Taiwan at a breakneck pace, as is often the case at present.

The Tourism Bureau believes the market potential is enormous, estimating that there are at least tens of millions seniors in China who have the ability to come to Taiwan.

Wayne Liu, chief secretary of the Tourism Bureau, said the so-called Sunset Glow tours will not rush seniors around the island but rather give them the option of leisurely exploring either Taiwan's east or west coast.

East line tourists will travel along Taiwan's rugged east coast and visit famous spots such as the popular singer Teresa Teng's grave, Taroko National Park, the Chihpen hot springs, and Taitung County's Sansiantai (a group of rocky islets surrounded by coral reefs). They will also enjoy views of the Pacific Ocean.

“To some seniors living in China, this may be their only chance to see the Pacific Ocean,” Liu said.

The west line tourists will visit the Lin Yu-tang House on Yangmingshan outside Taipei, Chang Syue-Liang's house in Hsinchu, Taipei 101, Sun Moon Lake and Alishan, he added.

According to Tourism Bureau statistics, 30 percent of the Chinese nationals who have visited Taiwan since restrictions were loosened on such visits in the middle of 2008 have been above the age of 60, and Liu believes they remain a prime marketing target.

“This group of people especially has a sense of urgency to visit Taiwan,” Liu said.

Considering the extra manpower needed to handle elderly tourists, the Tourism Bureau will subsidize the addition of a junior tour guide to every senior tour, a program that it believes will also help train less experienced guides.

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