很多時候,我們常忘記自己住的地方是個美麗寶島,直到別人提醒時,才發現台灣原來有這麼多好玩的地方。繼不同的國外媒體報導台灣的旅遊之後,十一月的《國家地理旅遊雜誌》又有一篇十二頁的文章,在這些報導中,花蓮的太魯閣與東海岸總是令國外人士印象深刻。不過,十月廿八日的《中國時報》也同時報導太魯閣號一票難求的問題,這些新聞透露了許多訊息,一個是台灣旅遊深具潛力,但需更多媒介行銷到全球,另一個是觀光產業的推動還需要更多蹲馬步的基本功夫,交通問題就是一個。

四年多前搬到花蓮,就已聽到傾斜式列車消息,不過從通車到現在,我卻一直無緣搭上這個列車。其實,對不習慣提早網路訂票的我來說,不僅沒機會搭上太魯閣號,在一般自強號列車上席地而坐也是經常的事。這種交通不便所造成的地理阻隔與孤立,難怪老一輩的花蓮人那麼渴望蘇花高的興建。

不幸也是幸運,地理上阻隔讓花東自然景觀得以保存,成為重要的經濟基礎,蘇花高興建無疑地將會加速這些景觀的破壞,但是,花蓮地方上仍然有強烈要求興建的聲音,因為很多人還是相信蘇花高可以引進更多的觀光人潮,因此,蘇花高變成不管是中央或地方政治人物爭取選票的工具。如果,花蓮地方這麼多年以來花在爭取蘇花高的政治動員與施壓,是轉移在對台鐵服務品質的要求上,這種交通上的不便早就應該改善很多。

台鐵對東部交通與觀光發展有壟斷性的影響,但是,其服務品質還有很多值得改進的地方,例如,台北車站捷運出口和花蓮車站,尤其是後站,窗口的售票常常大排長龍,但售票人員卻沒有彈性地增加;假日一票難求更為嚴重,但是彈性加開的班次十分有限;外語服務等等。總之,缺乏因應需求而即時彈性調整的能力是台鐵最大的問題。

最近花蓮觀光業者引頸盼望中國觀光客的開放,卻忘了去開發能引起更大附加價值的外國觀光客,這些重要歐美媒體對台灣旅遊的引介,證明台灣觀光還有許多未被挖掘的潛力,但是想要吸引國外的旅遊者,還有許多基本功夫要下。從最基本的來說,在國外旅遊每到一個地方就可以拿到清晰的地圖,並在地圖上標示各種推薦的旅遊路線,有些地圖甚至還畫出立體的建築。而我們的地圖常常只是簡單地畫上馬路與標示路名,對不懂中文的人來說很不容易使用,因為他們對空間的認知是來自於一些空間特徵與熟悉的標誌,像是麥當勞、加油站、7─11或是一些特殊的建築物等。從地圖就可以知道,我們還不太知道怎樣吸引國外的觀光客。

近年來在促進觀光政策之下,很多經費都花在興建更多的旅遊設施上,這些硬體建設常常像是在一個天生麗質的美女上,抹上一層又一層的化妝品,遮去了原有的美麗。花蓮市的北濱與南濱公園就是一個例子,在歷年的建設經費下,原本美麗的草地與山坡堆滿了各種設施,令人生氣的是,舊有的設施損壞一直未修,卻在旁邊又出現全新的建設。如果花蓮想要真正吸引更多的觀光客,興建蘇花高並不是一個解決的辦法,而是徹底地做好基本的蹲馬步功夫,改善觀光的品質才是永續經營之道。


Taipei Times的翻譯
Freeway not the answer for Hualien
By Chen Yi-ling 陳怡伶

Monday, Nov 05, 2007, Page 8
WE OFTEN FORGET that the place where we live is "Ilha Formosa" -- the beautiful island. It's only when others remind us that we discover that there are a lot of interesting places to go in Taiwan. Following several foreign media reports on traveling in Taiwan, the National Geographic Traveler Magazine published a 12-page article about it in this month's issue. Such articles always report that Taroko Gorge and the East Coast leave a deep impression on foreign visitors. But on Oct 28, the Chinese-language China Times reported that the Taroko Express is having trouble selling tickets. These news reports reveal several things.

One is that Taiwan has a lot of potential for tourism, but needs more media coverage to promote it globally. Another is that to develop further, the tourist industry still needs to learn the necessary basic skills, such as solving the transportation problem.

When I moved to Hualien four years ago, I had heard about the famous tilting train. But I have never had the chance to travel on it. Someone like myself, who is not used to booking tickets on the Internet, not only doesn't have the opportunity to travel on the Taroko Express, but often doesn't even have a seat when traveling on a normal express train. As Hualien is isolated because of inconvenient transportation, it's no wonder that many elderly Hualien residents ardently look forward to the construction of the planned Suhua freeway.

But there is an advantage to this disadvantage. The geographical isolation of the East Coast has helped preserve the natural landscape of Hualien and Taitung, making it an important economic foundation. The construction of the Suhua freeway will only quicken the destruction of this landscape.

Yet in Hualien and Taitung itself there are still calls demanding the construction of the freeway because many people still believe that it will attract more tourists to the region. Because of this, the freeway has become a campaign tool, a vote-winner on both the local and national level. If the efforts to mobilize people and exercise pressure that the Hualien government has spent over years fighting for the freeway had been spent on demanding better service from the Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA), the transportation situation would have improved a long time ago.

The TRA has a near-monopoly on the development of transportation and tourism in eastern Taiwan. But there is plenty of room for improvement in its service. An example are the long lines at the ticket windows at the Taipei Railway Station and Hualien Station. Even when there are a lot of people waiting, there is no increase in the number of ticket sellers. It's even harder to buy a ticket on holidays and there is very little flexibility in the number of trains. The foreign-language service could also be better. In short, the TRA needs to be more flexible and willing to adjust its services to meet demand.

The tourism industry has eagerly awaited the relaxation of the regulations for Chinese tourists to visit Taiwan. But it has forgotten to develop other foreign tourism. Stories about travel in Taiwan that appear in European and US media prove that there is a lot of unused tourism potential. But if the government wants to attract foreign tourists, there is a lot of fundamental work to be done.

An example is maps: when traveling in some countries, every time one arrives at a place, one can find clear maps of the area. Many of these maps include recommended itineraries, and even three-dimensional pictures of some buildings in the area. Maps in Taiwan, however, often only show roads and road names. For people who can't read Chinese, such maps are difficult to use because their knowledge of the area is based not on street names, but on some characteristic or familiar landmarks, like McDonald's restaurants, gas stations, 7-Elevens, or prominent buildings. Taiwan's tourist maps show that the industry doesn't really understand how to attract foreign tourists.

A lot of money has been spent on building more facilities for tourism. But these facilities often cover up the natural beauty of the landscape the same way smearing layer after thick layer of make-up on the face of a pretty girl covers up her natural beauty. Beibin Park (北濱公園) and Nanbin Park (南濱公園) in Hualien are prime examples. The beautiful lawns and slopes have been covered over with a variety of facilities. More frustrating is that some dilapidated facilities have not been renovated, while brand new facilities were erected right next to them.

If Hualien really wants to attract more tourists, building a freeway is not the way. The way to implement sustainable management is to first make sure there is a good foundation for a quality tourism experience.

Chen Yi-ling is an assistant professor in the Department of Local Studies at National Hualien University of Education.

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