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Date:2011-12-14

To walk barefoot on the soft land, bake sweet potato in a temporarily built kiln, bend down to learn how to plant rice, pick strawberries in winter or pick pears in summer, watch flocks of egrets, listen to nightingale singing, make glutinous rice balls, fly the lanterns, play the tops, taste delicious country cuisine, or enjoy the fun of shopping in rural areas on holiday….. Such fine and fun agro-tourism has become increasingly popular in Taiwan and many people are crazy about it.

?	Take a trip to rural villages can make close contact with cute animals. Tourism can be divided into three major categories: city tour, rural tourism and eco-tourism. “Most people like the hilarious atmosphere when beginning travel activities, so they usually choose city tours to broaden their horizon. However, when people grasp the concept of tourism and realize the leisure function of tourism, most of them will turn to in-depth travels and attach more importance to rural tourism and eco-tourism,” noted Prof. Yen Chien-hsien, president of the Taiwan Agricultural Extension Association.

The core value of city tours lies in buildings. For instance, the itinerary of a trip to Taipei usually includes a visit to Taipei 101, museum, and major department store shopping districts. But people always abandon the old for the new, and city tours can not always keep the attraction fresh. When the demand of the tourism market is understood clearly, agro-tourism in Taiwan has been developed toward rural tourism and eco-tourism.

 “Looking from the demand side, consumers tend to yearn for the past while pursuing new experiences. As to the supply side, leisure agriculture in Taiwan has been developed very well in the past decade due to government policy and farmers’ eagerness to transform their agricultural operations, with the scale of leisure farms, agriculture leisure areas and guesthouses growing steadily and their quality becoming refined with special features. Agro-tourism has gradually flourished after becoming a rising star in the field of national tours because of the demand mcet the supply,” analyzed Prof. Yen.

Ilan can be called the backyard garden of Taipei. Ilan has not only beautiful natural landscape but also the atmosphere of ease and leisure. At present there are 13 agriculture leisure areas in Ilan. “Agro-tourism places great emphasis on the uniqueness. Ilan has its unique landscape conditions, and all successful business operators know how to create their own uniqueness in order to attract visitors,” pointed out Prof. Kai-Lih Chen of Department of Applied Economics and Management, National Ilan University, who has Ilan’s leisure industry under her keen observation.

Agro-tourism has not only seen a boom in Taiwan, but also become a hot selling point in the international market. For example, Taiwan’s agro-tourism attracts more than 100,000 visitors from neighboring Singapore and Malaysia each year. “In Asia, Japan’s agro-tourism attaches much importance to tourist orchards. Although visitors can enjoy the fun of fruit-picking, but the tourist orchards are not diversified enough and do not provide accommodation. And activities arranged by New Zealand and Australia farms for visitors to experience agriculture are too simple. But under integrated overall planning Taiwan’s agro-tourism has become highly competitive because it offers food, accommodation and play, which is rare in the world,” explained Chiu Ling-hsiang, director of marketing of the Taiwan Leisure Farms Development Association. Moreover, visitors can buy agricultural products with local features in Taiwan’s leisure farms, so take a trip to Taiwan’s leisure farms can meet all needs of visitors at the same time!

Milking is a rare experience for city residents.Most leisure farms in Taiwan are located in scenic places with complete hardware facilities as well as clean and comfortable accommodation. There are no regularized services as provided by five-star hotels and sense of oppression caused by intensive rooms in high buildings. And leisure farms usually provide visitors with their favorite delicious food. “All farms place great emphasis on local production and consumption, so they use chicken, duck, fish or vegetables produced in their farms to cook meal for visitors to enjoy fresh and nutrient dishes,” said Chiu, Hiang-ling. As to shopping, leisure farms also provide such popular special agricultural products as honey, longan and a series of products used for aromatherapy which visitors can only buy in Taiwan.

Furthermore, DIY is the activity most appreciated by foreign visitors to leisure farms. Such cultural type of DIY activities as making glutinous rice balls, flying the lanterns, playing the tops; making kid toys in rural life such as bamboo cicada; and making leaf-rubbing T-shirt, paper fans with pressed flower, bookmark, and hand-made book are attractive to parents holidaying with children because such activities meet the needs of both the adult and kid.

The government has actively and carefully introduced a series of agricultural policies to implement the agricultural policy of “health, efficiency and sustainable management” with the existing Taiwan rural communities as the core, injecting nutrifias water into rural communities. Through guiding rural transformation to reconstruct wealthy and beautiful rural villages the government has not only taken care of vulnerable farmers and guided rural youth to return home and work for their communities, but also created enriched leisure quality for people and let the world see Taiwan’s agricultural achievements!

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