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Local gov'ts to keep New Year countdowns

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Various local governments said yesterday that it is worthwhile to keep the tradition of countdown concerts to celebrate the arrival of the New Year, as they are an effective way to promote local cities to the world.

With New Year's Eve just around the corner, local cities are all promoting their own countdown celebrations. However, some people have questioned whether the celebrations waste too much money and public resources.

Taipei City Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) said it is worthwhile to hold these celebrations, since the events will be reported on by international media and will enhance the visibility of Taipei around the world. The Taipei 101 fireworks has become a famous scene for the New Year, as the international media has been broadcasting it live in recent years. Additionally, there are more and more companies sponsoring the event, Taipei City Government spokesman Chang Chi-chiang (張其強) added.

According to the Department of Information and Tourism (DOIT,觀傳局) of Taipei City, the total cost of the countdown concert is about NT$20 million every year. The City government allocates a budget of NT$7.5 million to NT$8 million, with the rest of the money raised from sponsors.

Importance of Safety

 Liu Chia-hao (劉家豪), spokesperson for Taipei 101, said NU SKIN gave Taipai 101 about NT$30 million for the fireworks this year as part of a sponsorship deal.

In order to keep New Year celebration participants safe, the Department of Labor (DOL,勞動局) of Taipei City inspected the countdown stages and the fireworks devices.

The DOL pointed out after the inspection that there were no huge issues in the installation of the Taipei 101 fireworks. However, the DOL found there was not any safety management or self-inspection in the construction of the city government's stage. In addition, the workers did not use safety straps as they built the stage, the DOL said. The DOL has already asked the construction unit to strengthen their safety measures.

DOL Commissioner Chen Yeh-shin (陳業鑫) said every organizer should pay attention to safety regulations in constructing and removing the stages.

Countdown Celebration Increases Tourists

Lai Jui-lung (賴端隆), director-general of the Information Bureau of the Kaohsiung City Government, said hotels in Kaohsiung were fully booked and the passenger capacity of the Kaohsiung metro system was increased by 50 percent during New Year's Eve celebrations last year.

The Hualien Tourism And Public Affairs Department (花蓮縣政府觀光暨公共事務組) also pointed out that their countdown parties will refresh citizens' minds and welcome the New Year, so arranging an event is a worth goal.

Chiayi mayor Huang Min-huei (黃敏惠) said “the countdown party is not about how much money it costs but how it can create other value.” The countdown party provides a stage for local artists to perform that will help them increase their confidence, said Huang.

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Two photographers prepare to capture the beauty of the Taipei 101 fireworks in Xiangshan (象山), yesterday, in addition to camping out at a good viewing place in advance. The Xiangshan area will be extremely crowded on New Year's Eve, so they decided to grab a spot one day earlier, despite the cold. (CNA)

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