Fake Tourist Spot in Taiwan Raises Environmental Awareness

Fake Tourist Spot in Taiwan Raises Environmental Awareness
Photo Credit: Blowing Puffer Fish @Flickr CC BY 2.0
What you need to know

A campaign featuring a non-existing scenic spot has been launched to address the increasingly serious trash problem on Orchid Island.

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Orchid Island, homeland of the aboriginal Tao people, has become one of Taiwan's most popular tourist spots in recent years, attracting more than 100,000 visitors in 2015. But the increasing number of tourists has brought more trash to the island and is troubling locals.

To raise awareness of the issue, some local residents and two Taiwanese women in their twenties, Wang Ching-yu (汪靜妤) and Shih Yi-jung (施懿容), have started a new campaign.

They have been promoting an unpublicized scenic spot on Orchid Island called Kasiboan, which is actually a trash dump that contains the island's garbage. Kasiboan is a Tao expression that means “place for piling trash.”

The location was originally a yam farm where locals have been piling recyclable trash for more than a year and a half.

The advocates put up signs that led to Kasiboan around the island and asked local restaurants and bed-and-breakfast owners to recommend Kasiboan as a must-see site. They then took some visitors to the “hidden” site.

Wang and Shih recorded the surprised reactions of the tourists and their comments on the trash issue upon discovering the secret spot was actually a garbage dump. The clips were compiled into a three-minute video and posted on the Internet on July 17.

The video has since received more than 30,000 views.

The team has also created a canvas bag printed with the campaign slogan to encourage visitors take their garbage with them when they leave the island.

Since 2011, waste treatment on Orchid Island has been contracted to companies in Kaohsiung, but the shipping and treatment cost can reach as much as NT$8,500 (US$264) per ton. The high price and the growing amount of littering has led to more waste on the island.

Starting last year, the local government has also promoted a campaign called “Carry One More Kilogram Back to Taiwan,” which encourages tourists to help collect cans and plastic bottles in exchange for small handmade wood artifacts.

Wang and Shih, who work in advertising, say that after noticing the trash problem on Orchid Island they decided to address the issue via mass media.

They hope tourists who visit the island will become aware of their environmental responsibility. Their ultimate goal is to restore the natural environment of Orchid Island.

First Editor: Olivia Yang
Second Editor: Edward White