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International surfers’ base to be built on north coast
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Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung, fifth left, and New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi, fourth left/Photo courtesy of Taipei Times

An international training base for surfers could be completed before October at Jhongjiao Bay  in New Taipei City’s Jinshan District , Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung  said yesterday.

Lin made the remarks before inspecting the bay with New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi  and Cabinet officials.

Establishing a surfers’ training base in Jhongjiao Bay was among Premier Su Tseng-chang’s campaign promises when he became commissioner of the former Taipei County, before it was renamed New Taipei City and became a special municipality.

Hou brought the plan up again at a Cabinet meeting on Jan. 17, after he took office on Dec. 25 last year.

Su would help Hou realize his plan for the bay, Lin said, adding that it is an example of municipalities and the Cabinet sharing a common goal.

The Ministry of Transportation and Communications was put in charge of the project two days after the Cabinet meeting ended, he said, adding that a development plan was submitted to the Executive Yuan following multiple meetings with officials from the Ministry of Education, Council of Agriculture and New Taipei City Government over the past month-and-a-half.

“We hope people can see an international training base for surfers here in October this year, including a visitor center and infrastructure improvements in the area,” Lin said.

Jhongjiao Elementary School is to host a training center that prepares the national team for international competitions, but which would welcome surfing enthusiasts as well, he said.

The government has budgeted NT$15 million (US$487,409) per year to fund the national training centers’ operations, Lin said.

The visitor center would help visitors who are not surfers navigate the scenic attractions on the north coast, he said.

The Forestry Bureau would need to release land designated for forest conservation so that the Tourism Bureau can build a parking lot to accommodate more tourists, he said.

Meanwhile, the municipality is to build new roads to the bay, which requires the expropriation of civilian properties, Lin said.

The roads are to connect to Provincial Highway No. 2, as well as bike lanes in Wanli  and Jinshan districts, creating a “tourism corridor,” he added.

Surfing is among the disciplines at next year’s Tokyo Summer Olympics, as well as in Paris in 2024 and Los Angeles in 2028, Chinese Taipei Surfing Association chairman Yu Ming-chin  said.

He thanked officials for their support and expressed the hope that Taiwan would one day win a gold medal in the sport.

In other developments, Lin defended the transport ministry’s proposal to subsidize Taiwanese travelers during the spring season, following criticism that the Cabinet is squandering taxpayers’ money.

The government spent NT$2.1 billion subsidizing domestic travelers during the winter, which helped generate an “output value” of NT$11.5 billion and raised hotel occupancy rates by 20 to 30 percent, Lin said.