Matsu looks to the past for ‘romantic military tourism’


TAIPEI — Taiwan’s outlying Matsu Island chain is hoping to capitalize on its history to reposition itself as a spot for “romantic military tourism,” the local government said.

In the upcoming March 11-13 matchmaking party with the theme “Find Your True Love at War,” the Lianjiang County government, which administers the Matsu chain, said it hopes to bring energy to the islands as an incentive to attract the younger generation.

Couples will be invited to parties and given a chance to hike around the main island to enjoy its military relics, part of the visitor-friendly atmosphere the county government wants to create.

“People here no longer put on military uniforms but hot, sexy wear instead,” said Lianjiang County Magistrate Yang Sui-sheng.

In another event on White Day, one month after Valentine’s Day, when women in many Asian countries usually present chocolate gifts to their boyfriends and lovers, the local government will hold BBQ parties and paintball games exclusively for singles, Yang said.

Yang hopes the series of events will help showcase new features of the island best known for its liquor production and traditional Fujianese architecture.

Matsu, a frontline stronghold against Communist China during the Cold War, remained a war-zone civil administration until 1992, but has since relied on tourism as an engine of economic prosperity.

It attracted more than 80,000 tourists in 2009, compared with 20,000 in 2004, according to the latest report issued by the Lianjiang County Tourism Bureau.

The Matsu chain consists of 36 islets and atolls with a total land area of just under 30 square kilometers and a population of about 10,000. It is just over 10 nautical miles from the Chinese mainland and some 114 miles from Taiwan.