TOURISM PRESSURES: Hot springs and old streets in Jinshan and Wanli draw crowds, but improvements are needed to their visitor facilities and hiking trails
By Lai Hsiao-tung and William Hetherington / Staff reporter, with staff writer
The number of visitors to New Taipei City’s Jinshan （金山） and Wanli （萬里） districts reaches 2.8 million annually, but the city needs a comprehensive plan to deal with the pressures on popular areas and complaints from visitors, the city government said.
Most visitors head to the districts’ old streets and their hot springs, but they are often unsure of how organize their visits, city officials said.
The New Taipei City Government has asked the central government for NT$380 million （US$12.9 million） from the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program to help fund a revitalization project.
Wanli District Administrator Hsieh Wen-hsiang （謝文祥） said the first phase has already been granted NT$225 million.
The first phase would involve renovating Jinshan’s hot springs and surrounding areas, followed by plans to improve Wanli’s parking facilities, scenic spots and shops, officials said.
The second phase would focus on linking the two districts, they said, adding that they hope to begin work on the project next year if the city gets the funding.
The first phase would include the clean-up of the Yuantan River （員潭溪） and the coast around Shueiwei Fishing Harbor （水尾漁港）, as well as the nearby hiking trails, said Chang Chi-en （張記恩）, director of New Taipei City Urban and Rural Development Planning Department’s City Planning Office.
The activity center at Jinshan’s Zhongshan Hot Springs Park is old and there are concerns about its safety, so it would be demolished and the surrounding area turned into a green area, he added.
Nearby Zhongshan Hall would also be renovated, and a new bathhouse and foot bath facility built for hot springs tourists, Chang said.
The second phase would see facilities around Jinbaoli River （金包里溪）, including a bike path that runs along the river and the underused parking facilities in Dapeng Village （大鵬）, he said, adding that the area has a vibrant ecology and is frequented by migratory birds.
“We want to eventually connect the walking trails that run through the area and install observation platforms and sitting areas to allow visitors to see the wildlife close up,” Chang said, adding that development would be done in a manner that would not disturb wildlife.
The 50-car parking lot in Dapeng is underused, but the city hopes to attract more users by setting up an area for vendors of local agricultural products and installing foot baths, he said.
The parking lot could serve as an important juncture between the two districts as visitors to the two districts pass by it, Chang said.
Local residents have already expressed their hopes of seeing the facilities developed and having more people stop in the village, he said.
The NT$155 million for the second phase has been given initial approval from the Ministry of the Interior’s Construction and Planning Agency.
The junction of the Jinbaoli and Yuantan rivers is pictured on Friday in New Taipei City. Photo courtesy of New Taipei City Urban and Rural Development Planning Department