Taipei, July 22 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (???) visited Taitung on Sunday, saying that she wanted to help promote the eastern county's tourism and get a firsthand look at whether the needs of its sizeable indigenous population were being met.
Her first stop on her two-day tour of Taitung was at the site of an old sugar factory that is now a cultural park.
Trailed by reporters, Tsai explored the cluster of curio shops at the site and bought, among other things, a handmade backpack that she jokingly said will be used to carry "documents, including state secrets."
During her two-day tour, she said, she planned to not only promote the county's tourist attractions, but also meet with farmers to talk about marketing of their agricultural produce and to visit indigenous communities, which make up about one-third of Taitung's total population.
Tsai said she wanted to see what progress had been made in the efforts to preserve the culture and tradition of the indigenous communities, to improve education and industrial development there, and to provide them with long-term care services.
Tsai was accompanied on her tour Sunday by Legislator Liu Chao-hao (???), her Democratic Progressive Party's candidate for Taitung County magistrate; the incumbent Magistrate Justin Huang (???) of the Kuomintang (KMT), who will not be seeking re-election; and other officials.
She praised Huang for initiating the annual hot air balloon festival in Taitung, which she said has become a major attraction and would definitely continue when a new magistrate takes office after the local government elections in November.
Her comment about the festival, made in response to reporters' questions, came against the backdrop of speculations that it would be discontinued if Liu won the election.
Meanwhile, earlier in the day, Huang told reporters that one of the longstanding issues affecting Taitung tourism was the shortage of train seats during the peak travel period in summer.
Huang, who has served the maximum two terms as county magistrate, said he planned to bring the issue to Tsai's attention in the hope that the central government would address the problem.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel