Dadan Island opened to public

TAIPEI (CNA) – Dadan Island was officially opened to the public March 1, and 234 tourists visited the outlying island in the first two days, according to the Kinmen County Tourism Department.

The island, which is 0.79-square-kilometers in size, was a key front-line bastion during the Cold War against the Chinese communists. It is located 12.8 km southwest of Kinmen proper but only 4.4 km from Xiamen in China’s Fujian Province.

It was officially opened for tourism on March 1 after a trial run from July 26 to Oct. 31 last year, which attracted over 3,000 people, the department said.

A maximum of 150 people can visit the island per day and the tickets, which include a two-way ferry trip, electric shuttle bus rides and guide services, cost NT$1,500 (US$48.5), with a 50 percent discount for Kinmen residents.

Tsai Jung-feng (蔡榮豐), a photographer who served as a soldier on Dadan 41 years ago, was commissioned by the county government to record a documentary about the first tourists to visit the island.

“Many tourists were very excited about setting foot on this mysterious island and eager to explore it,” Tsai said.

According to guide Chen Kuan-hsiung (陳冠雄), a wall decorated with an inscription that reads “Reunification of China under the Three Principles of the People” is the most popular site with tourists.

“From where the wall is located, visitors can also see Erdan Island, Sandan Island and Sidan Island,” said Yang Chi-wei (楊志偉), another guide.

Department Director Ting Chien-kang (丁健剛) said the county government plans to launch a series of customized programs featuring local culture to attract more visitors.

The county has also rolled out various exclusive souvenirs, including piggy banks, hats, and teapots/tea cups, with the last being the most popular with visitors, Ting said.

While residents of China, Hong Kong and Macau are barred from visiting the island, Taiwanese and foreign nationals interested in sight-seeing must apply for permission 10 days prior to their planned trip.

By Huang Huei-min and Flor Wang