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First they tried to charge hikers to use the new Paiyun Hut on Yushan (Taiwan’s highest mountain; which is fair enough), but then decided to charge foreign climbers way over twice the price paid by local and expat resident hikers to use the same facilities. Now, according to a news story that appeared on March 17th, the local authorities have come up with the bright idea of increasing entrance fees (by between 56% and a staggering 150%!) to possibly Taiwan’s greatest single tourist attraction, the National Palace Museum, but only for foreigners – apparently tax paying expats as well as visitors. Meanwhile Taiwanese visitors will actually enjoy a 6.2% decrease in the ticket price when the proposed new measures come into effect.
I’m not even gonna try to work out the logic or reasoning behind the daft and potentially extremely harmful plan as described if this tier pricing system does actually come into effect.
I, and I’m sure many other foreign visitors, find it offensive that on the evidence of this, the Museum authorities seem to think the Taiwanese people have priority to see and enjoy the magnificent contents of this museum. Especially odd is the decision to increase the price of group tickets (the majority of groups visiting the Museum being of Mainland Chinese tourists) by a mighty 150%. Is the sublime irony lost on them? The custodians of the collection, the Taiwanese (many of whom are at great pains to distance themselves from their Chinese heritage these days) technically stole the collection from its original owners in Beijing, and will now charge the Chinese a great deal over the odds to view one of their own country’s great treasures.
In any event it might not bode well at all for Taiwan’s hopes to have places such as the basalt formations of Penghu, the historic battlefields of Kinmen, and the unique aboriginal culture of Lanyu (Orchid Island) added to the UNESCO World Heritage list if they think they can get away with welcoming foreign tourists to visit another of the island’s world-class attractions, but then charge them way more than the Taiwanese for the pleasure of seeing another piece of world heritage lying within its borders. Another one that, in the spirit of UNESCO, should be preserved for the good of the ‘entire world citizenry’ .