In the year of travel bans, tourists threaten Taiwan islanders’ ...

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In the year of travel bans, tourists threaten Taiwan islanders’ way of life

Unexpected visitor surge prompts desperate plea from Tao to save their island from becoming a 'sewage plant'

Sally Jensen

While 2020 will be remembered by many as a year of travel bans and cancelled holidays, the indigenous Tao people of Orchid Island will remember it as the year unprecedented numbers of visitors descended on their once tranquil home.

The small island, 90km off Taiwan’s southeast coast, is home to about 4,700 ethnic Austronesian Tao or Yami people, and has in recent years become a popular holiday destination for Taiwanese and foreigners.

But with bans on international travel due to the Covid-19 pandemic, in 2020 Orchid Island has experienced an unexpected surge in domestic visitors to more than 220,000 – putting a strain on its natural resources and its inhabitants...

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