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Israel planning bird-watching tours for Taiwanese
Central News Agency
2014-05-04 07:37 PM
Taipei, May 4 (CNA) Capitalizing on the vibrant birding culture that has taken off in Taiwan, Israel's representative office is promoting bird-watching tours catered to Taiwanese travelers to the Middle Eastern country. The Israel Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei said it is discussing with Taiwanese travel agencies and Israeli tourism officials the details for such programs. Israel is well-known for its holy sites for Christian, Jewish and Muslim pilgrims, but few in Taiwan would think of the Middle Eastern country of just over 20,000 square kilometers as a haven for spotting birds. In actuality, Israel is home to some 500 species of birds and attracts more than 500,000 birders yearly, according to the office. Migrant birds from Europe travel to the arid country for the winter, and birds from Africa come to escape even hotter climates, it said. Hula Valley in northern Israel and Eilat in the south are among the major destinations for bird watching, the office said, suggesting March through May and October to early December as the prime viewing seasons. The office held photo exhibitions in Taipei and New Taipei last year to promote birding in Israel by showcasing dozens of photos of eagles, marsh harriers, cranes, pelicans and other species as well as the natural beauty of Hula Valley. The photos are now on display in Tainan, southern Taiwan, the office said, adding that the exhibitions have sparked interest. Taiwanese passport holders are extended up to 90 days of visa-free stay in Israel since a visa-waiver agreement took effect in August 2011. The policy has helped promote a steady increase in Taiwanese visitors, from the 3,894 who visited in 2010 to 4,478 in 2011, 4,971 in 2012, and 5,259 in 2013, according to statistics provided by the office. From January to March alone this year, 2,145 Taiwanese nationals visited Israel, it added. Most of the travelers went to Israel for tourism or religious reasons. The office is now aiming to promote eco-tourism and birding programs to boost local tourism and introduce different aspects of the country. (By Elaine Hou)
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