Red Brick Daily
Stuck just nine kilometers off the coast of mainland China’s Fujian province, the Matsu archipelago — which is controlled by Taiwan — used to be a MAJOR front-line military outpost.
Under military administration for decades, Matsu was closed to outsiders … and 90% of its residents were soldiers.
The islands returned to civilian rule in 1992. Thereafter … the number of armed forces personnel fell from 50,000 to just a couple thousand.
As you might imagine, the local economy was heavily reliant on the military … businesses, shops — virtually every element of life on the Matsu Islands catered to the military.
But since the isolated islands were essentially untouched by visitors for decades … Matsu was a sleeping tourism mecca.
Matsu was opened to civilian visitors for the first time in 1994.
Tourists visiting Matsu today get to check out the military history and secrets of Matsu … plus traditional eastern Fujian-style architecture and much more …
A large tract of Matsu has been a national scenic area since 1999 — and tourist numbers have gone from 40,000 to over 100,000.
Tourism is obviously the future of Matsu … but some note that insufficient accommodation and transportation are huge challenges the islands need to overcome if it is to achieve its full potential.
(Photo via Taiwan Today — the cover photo shows the Dongyong Lighthouse, completed in 1904)