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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Tourism Bureau Manufactures Cycling Buzz?

In less than a month after CNNGo included Sun Moon Lake in its erroneous and potentially misguided list of Top 10 cycling routes, a report comes across the wire like this:

Taipei, April 6 (CNA) Tourism officials said Friday that the number of cyclists in the Sun Moon Lake area of central Taiwan has surged during the past few weeks, driven by a CNN report that said the scenic area is one of the world's top 10 cycle routes.

In a March 15 article titled "Cycling Routes That'll Take Your Breath Away" on, the area around Sun Moon Lake was ranked No. 5 behind the Great Ocean Road in Australia, the Udaipur City tour in India, the Karakoram Highway between China and Pakistan, and the Route of the Hiawatha in the United States.

The unexpected media exposure has triggered an overwhelming response from both local and foreign cyclists, according to the Sun Moon Lake National Scenic Area Administration.

"We have seen the number of cyclists doubled on holidays, with 30 percent more on regular days," said Chang Jenn-chyan, director of the administration, who added that there has been an increasing presence of foreign cyclists.
This report seems fishy to me.

My questions are:

  • How can the Tourism Bureau possibly have amassed enough definitive data to draw the conclusion that there had been an increase in cycling traffic due to the CNN article... especially in a few short weeks?
  • Which methods are they using to collect data?
  • How is the Tourism Bureau defining "foreigner"? I would assume they mean caucasians, but they may be including other foreign visitors.

My feeling on the matter is that the Tourism Bureau is paying for press and they are determined to show results of their marketing efforts.

I have emailed CNNGo for clarification and I have yet to receive a reply. I have also emailed the Taiwan Tourism Bureau for clarification.

I have seen a number of instances where the Tourism Bureau has supplied visitors with talking points, in exchange for a free trip.

The Tourism Bureau is too quick to draw its conclusions, especially since central Taiwan has been experiencing nicer weather in recent weeks and more people will be out cycling anyways. To attribute an increase in cycling to a minor CNN article seems presumptuous and wanting.

I also doubt large numbers foreigners saw the CNNGo article and immediately booked a trip to Taiwan to ride Sun Moon Lake.

I recently rode Sun Moon Lake, and at no time did I see any government official collecting survey data on riders.

I think we may be seeing a move by the government to promote a Merida event that will be held at Sun Moon Lake at the end of the month. They are trying to hype their own efforts at taxpayer expense.

In the long run, this type of manufactured hype may not be in the best interest of Taiwanese cycling, as many of these hyped locations do not deliver the goods when we actually ride them. Nothing makes a worse impression than being underwhelmed.

This is just a farce in analogical reasoning.

It really raises the question as to how many other articles have been fudged by the government.

Taiwan Tourism Bureau = FAIL!

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