A tiny island off the coast of Taiwan made the news Friday in an article that is quickly making the rounds in the world of cat lovers. The only school in the community of Hujing has come up with a plan to lure in tourists. They’re part of a plan advertising more than 150 stray cats and inviting tourists to visit!
Hujing is called home to just 200 people and knew their small town population has a lack of jobs because it wasn’t a tourist attraction. Then Hujing Elementary School principal Lin Yan-ling and six of her students got the idea of using cats to boost tourism, as this approach has been very successful in other towns in the region.
In an interview with ABC she stated
“On some small islands in Japan — due to the abundance of felines — foreigners have been lured in and the cats have become famous tourist attractions leading to young people also returning and helping the community.”
Turning the island into a place cat lovers would want to visit was accomplished by using two proven concepts. Inviting artists to move to the island to create art with a cat theme and to take photographs of the approximately 150 local cats and making custom items (using recycled materials) for sale to the tourists.
Hayashi Tsuyoshi is involved with the program to ensure the cats are healthy and cared for. If you go on Facebook and type in Hujing cats his page will come up. It won’t load directly via the link.
Take a look at the giant public post box in from of the school.
“Let the school not only be a paradise for children, but also a paradise for cats,” Lin Yan-ling added.
Taiwan’s north coastal town of Houtong has already become famous as a ‘cat town.’ With the 200-plus cats outnumbering the 100 or so residents, Houtong decided to cater to cat lovers and draws in nearly one million tourists per year.
Houtong is more accessible from the capital of Taipei. It’s only a short train ride. Hujing takes an hour long flight from the capital and also involves a boat trip.
The Hujing cats are part of a spay/neuter program. Not only are the cats being cared for, the project is teaching useful skills to young people. Especially those who will need a useful trade in order to remain on the island (if they so wish to).