To keep its lead, island President Ma Ying-jeou announced this month the government would spend more than $20 million on a new network of bike paths.Time for someone to open a company that does that for overseas tourists. Robert Kelly also has a great article on Taiwan's tourism potential in Taiwan Journal.
Over the past two years, as fuel prices rose and keeping fit became trendier, East Coast cycling has gone from the odd loner braving speeding gravel trucks to group after organized group of cyclists who spend two or three days on the road.
Keen to compete with world-renowned Asian tourist destinations such as Thailand and Hong Kong, Taiwan's government has jumped on the trend, adding bike trips to tourism brochures.
"A lot of corporate executives have ridden our bikes," said Tsai Chia-chin, who runs a Giant rental outpost that works with tour guides to organize trips in the east coast's Rift Valley.
Giant has seen tourists from Hong Kong, mainland China and the United States, Tsai said.
"Riders who want a challenge will definitely do the steeper hills, and we will accommodate them," he said.
A self-guided Giant bike costs up to T$1,600 ($48) per day. A three-day tour costs T$6,500.
Giant's Taiwan-based rival Merida Industry has rented bikes to east coast travelers for about five years, but riders must drop them off where they first rented them. Hostels along the east coast also rent bikes, often at no charge to guests.
"I'm from Los Angeles, and I think it would be great to bring more Americans over here and put them on biles," said Mike Burton, 57, a cyclist teacher in the east coast city of Hualien.
- Taiwan could show Sri Lanka the way to prosperity.
- Lot of people thinking the stock market could go up. It's nice, but it doesn't address the real problems we have.
- China is trying to take over our auto parts makers.
- The latest scandal with our fighter plane drivers: pilot on ketamine.
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