Sightseeing spots across Taiwan reported moderate to heavy crowds on Friday, the second day of the four-day Dragon Boat Festival holiday, as people were eager to travel amid easing concerns over the spread of COVID-19.
According to the Freeway Bureau’s “1968” online traffic service, which is linked to the traffic system to project where people are headed, large numbers of visitors traveled to eastern, central and southern Taiwan on Friday.
Several destinations, including the Wufengqi Waterfall in Yilan County and Wuling Pass in Nantou County near Hohuanshan, were showing red alerts, signaling heavy crowds, earlier in the day.
As of late Friday afternoon, however, only the Qixintan Scenic Area outside of Hualien and Anping Port in the Tainan area were flashing red indicators.
Several other spots, including the National Center for Traditional Arts and Luodong Night Market in Yilan County, flashed yellow alerts, indicating moderate numbers of visitors.
Traffic jams were evident everywhere. In the Taipingshan National Forest Recreation Area in Yilan County, officials said there were already vehicles lining up at the gate at 4 a.m., when the park opened.
Traffic was backed up for 2 kilometers in the morning, and at least 5,200 visitors were recorded as of 3 p.m., the highest number of visitors since a long weekend at the end of February this year, according to Huang Hsin-wei (黃信偉), one of the park’s managers.
Similar situations were seen in the New Paradiso entertainment complex, Qixintan, and Liyu Mountain in Hualien, and around Sun Moon Lake in Nantou, the “1968” website showed.
In Tainan, crowds were seen in downtown shopping areas, Fort Provintia and Anping Port, according to the website.
According to Tainan’s tourism authority, as of noon, thousands had visited tourist spots such as the Chimei Museum, Tainan Art Museum, Hu-Tou Pei Scenic Area and Tsou Ma Lai Farm.
Freeway traffic was congested on several sections on Freeways No. 1 and No. 3, including southbound lanes near New Taipei, Hsinchu and Taoyuan, and northbound lanes in Taipei on Friday morning.
While Freeway No. 5 reported severe southbound traffic jams over the past two days, drawing much criticism, the Freeway Bureau predicted congestion on the northbound lanes later Friday.
As of about 6:50 p.m., northbound traffic on Freeway No. 5 between Yilan City and Pinglin (including the 12.9 kilometer Hsuehshan Tunnel) was moving at between 20-40 kilometers per hour, while southbound traffic was relatively smooth.
An estimated 118 million vehicle-kilometers were expected to be traveled Friday, far higher than the typical 87 million vehicle-kilometers traveled on a normal weekday, the bureau said.
Vehicle-kilometers measure the number of vehicles on the road times the average distance they travel.
Taiwan has not had a domestically transmitted case of COVID-19 since April 12, according to official figures, and with border controls still in place, limiting overseas trips, people with pent-up urges to travel are looking for places to go around Taiwan.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel