Hot air balloon tours starts in a month in Taitung
By Katherine Wei ,The China Post
May 14, 2014, 12:08 am TWN
TAIPEI, Taiwan -- As the annual Taiwan International Balloon Fiesta is coming up in Taitung, the local government yesterday announced that its hot air balloon tours are open for sign-ups today.
Launched only last year, the Taitung County Government's hot air balloon tours were held in collaboration with local airline companies and proved successful. Prospective tourists may start signing up for the tours on the government website starting May 15 at noon, for tours held from June 15 to July 31.
Many tourists had positive reactions to the balloon tours last years, claiming that they would sign up again the next year as the experience “touches your entire life.”
A total of 705 tourists flew in the balloon tours in 2013 from June 15 to Sept. 30.
In this year's balloon festival, the tour balloons are doubled to four, and the tours will keep going on in the future on days when the weather holds fine. Taitung will be the only place in the country with hot air balloon tours and the activity will be commercialized, said the Taitung County Government.
There will be an additional tour balloon with eight vacancies at the festival venue for people who have not managed to secure a seat online.
The balloon festival has been held since 2011 in Luye Township in Taitung County, which is where this year's event will be held as well. Currently listed as one of the major events on the Taiwan Tourism Almanac, the Taitung government states that it has invited pilots from over 15 nations over the past years, including Lituania, India, the United Arab Emerates, the Netherlands and the United States.
The Taitung County Government has also established a hot air balloon team to attract more international and local tourists; the team consisting of eight balloons and seven pilots who are all certified in the U.S. and Taiwan.
Last year, the fee for the free-fly tours was NT$8,000 for each 30-minute ride, while passengers may also sign up for a straight-up ride in tethered balloons at NT$500 per time.