In order to enhance the exchanges of vision and knowledge between the tourism industry and government departments and to promote the concept of sustainable development, the Tourism Bureau of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications has been holding an annual international tourism forum since 2017. This year, the 2019 Taiwan Modern Tourism Forum finale is being held in Kaohsiung City, which has natural ecology and a diverse ethnic culture, from October 15 (Tuesday) to 16 (Wednesday). We have invited the founder of Singapore Gaia Discovery, Mallika Naguran, Palau Pledge’s co-founders Jennifer Koskelin Gibbons and Laura Clarke, Japan’s Whole Earth Nature School Director Keisuke Ootake and a number of domestic experts and scholars to share their valuable experience. The forum’s finale has attracted more than 100 tourism-related practitioners to participate in the grand event.

On the first day of the forum, the two topics of ” The Way to Develop Sustainable Tourism” and ” The Responsible travel – Ecotourism ” were launched to explore how the tourism industry can strike a balance between natural ecology, social culture and economic development. In particular, we explored how community residents, industry, government, academia and people from all walks of life can meet the desires of tourists to experience the local area while also protecting the local natural environment and cultural heritage, and further construct a complete tourism industry chain. Through benefits from the eco-tourism activities, we hope to stimulate local economic development to achieve the ultimate goal of sustainable tourism.

The first session of the forum was moderated by the president of National Kaohsiung University of Hospitality and Tourism Yueh-Hsiu Lin. Founder of Gaia Discovery, Mallika Naguran, shared the ecological catastrophe brought about by excessive tourism and unfinished policies, and how to make the natural ecological environment sustainable, through innovative thinking. Wen-Jui Lee, the general manager of Crazy Horse Travel Agency, talked about how he used the traditional culture of Taiwan’s indigenous people to develop a circular economy through cross-border cooperation and created a sustainable community environment. Ching-Hui Chiu, the director of the Meinung People’s Association, also shared her experience of the Meinung Yellow Butterfly Festival, which she has been organizing for many years. She talked about how the rich ecological environment is facing development pressure and how to use a new way of thinking to protect the beautiful land.

The Responsible travel – Ecotourism session of the forum was led by Liu Ke-zhen, chairman of the Central News Agency. The moderator invited the co-founders of Palau Pledge, Jennifer Koskelin Gibbons and Laura Clarke, to share how the First Lady of Palau, one of Taiwan’s allies, promoted the Palau Pledge policy and how the Palau National Marine Sanctuary was established, enabling Palau to be selected as one of the world’s top 100 green tourism destinations. During the session, Mei-Hui Chen, professor of the Department of Forestry at National Pingtung University of Science and Technology, also shared how in-depth travel in communities and native tribal areas assisted their local development, allowing Pingtung community to transform itself into an internationally renowned ecotourism place. Last but not least, Ming-Chien Hsu, deputy executive director of the Taiwan Thousand Miles Trail Association, introduced the characteristics of well-known trails in various countries and how the trails were developed without destroying the ecology.

The theme of the second day of the forum will focus on ” Attraction of Mountain Tourism.” In addition to paying attention to the natural ecological conservation of the mountain forest, the sessions on the second day will explore the beauty of Taiwan’s mountain ranges. The director of the Taiwan Eco-Tourism Association, Chen-Meng Kuo, will be the moderator. The key speaker Japan’s Whole Earth Nature School’s Director Keisuke Ootake will share his experience in promoting Mt. Fuji’s eco-tourism development over the past 20 years and introduce the Mt. Fuji guided tours and forms of eco-tourism. American waterfall and wild streams expert Asher Leiss, who lives in Taiwan because he has fallen in love with Taiwan’s waterfalls, will talk about how he uses GPS and Google to draw waterfall maps to promote Taiwan in a unique way. Director of Hiking Biji Wang Jia-yu, who devotes his work and life to mountain forests, will share the beauty of Taiwan’s mountains and forests as well as his suggestions for developing mountain tourism.

After two days of exciting topics and speakers at the forum, the Vice President of the Taiwan Visitors Association Cherng-Tyan Su will summarize the topics discussed. These include how the tourism crowds have harmed the tourism environment, how the tourism industry should transform itself into green tourism, how to reduce the impact and destruction to the natural ecology, and how to create a sustainable tourism industry in Taiwan.
Mr. Joe Y. Chou, the Director General of the Tourism Bureau of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, hopes that through this opportunity of international exchanges, we can gather opinion from people in the fields of tourism and natural ecology, reflect on the impact of excessive tourism, and promote the ecological diversity of Taiwan, as well as the beauty of its mountains. He hopes that by combining indigenous tribes, community culture and local ecology, we can attract more community partners, tourism industry personnel and local governments to work together to promote Taiwan’s sustainable tourism development and invest in green tourism and mountain activities. That will help create Taiwan’s pro-mountain brand and friendly mountaineering environment, shape Taiwan into a well-known international mountaineering tourist landmark, and attract international tourists to Taiwan for mountaineering.