Ministry secures NT$6 billion to help tourism industry


VIRUS HESITANCE:
Among the funding guidelines were NT$30,000 for group tours, NT$1,300 for hotel stays and discounts for admission to amusement parks.

  • By Shelley Shan / Staff Reporter

The Ministry of Transport and Communications secured NT$6 billion ($203.36 million) to support the tourism industry and bus operators, whose business has been disrupted by the COVID-19 situation in Taiwan , Transportation and Communications Minister Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材) told lawmakers at a meeting of the Legislature Transportation Committee in Taipei yesterday.

Lawmakers asked Wang when Taiwan’s borders would reopen to tourists, as Singapore, Thailand and South Korea lifted quarantine requirements for people fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Singapore and Thailand have even allowed people to board flights without a negative polymerase chain reaction test result, they said.

Photo: Chen Hsin-yu, Taipei Times

Japan plans to reopen its borders to small groups of tourists from June 10.

Travel agencies, hoteliers and restaurateurs are struggling to wait for international tourists to return, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmaker Hung Meng-kai (洪孟楷) said, adding that the government must tell the tourism industry when and under what conditions the borders would be reopened.

KMT lawmaker Hsu Shu-hua (許淑華) said the government should continue to provide relief to struggling tour operators, even if funds obtained by the ministry were for “stimulus”.

“It’s not that travel companies haven’t tried to attract customers, it’s that most people don’t want to travel amid an increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases nationwide. country,” Hsu said.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmaker Liu Shih-fang (劉世芳) said that in addition to stimulus funds, the ministry should consider giving tax breaks to travel agencies, hoteliers and operators of amusement parks.

The ministry should discuss the possibility with other central and local government officials, Liu said.

The Tourist Board has announced general guidelines governing the distribution of funds.

The final version of the guidelines will be released by the middle of next month, he said.

Of the NT$6 billion, NT$5.5 billion would be used to support the tourism industry and NT$500 million would be used to fund highway bus operators, Wang said.

The funds would not subsidize businesses and employees for lost income and wages, Wang said.

“We would instead focus on stimulating the growth of the tourism industry, providing subsidies to travel agencies, hotels and amusement parks that attract domestic travelers while borders remain closed,” said- he declared.

The funds were granted because the government believes the tourism industry “would still need to hang in there for a little while”, given that the number of transmitted cases nationally remains high, he said.

“The Central Epidemic Command Center [CECC] told us that the reopening of borders could lead to a further increase in COVID-19 cases, which would increase the burden on an already strained health system,” Wang said. “Given the limited medical capacity, he wants tourism to resume when the national COVID-19 outbreak is under control.”

Tourism Bureau Director-General Chang Shi-chung (張錫聰) said the bureau had proposed conditions to the CECC under which borders could be reopened after reviewing rules established by Thailand, Singapore and other countries. .

Other funding guidelines are that a group tour can receive up to NT$30,000 if it has more than 15 members, lasts at least two days, and hires a guide who does not have an employer or who is indigenous, the office said.

Travelers can receive up to NT$1,300 per night if they stay at star hotels, bike-friendly hotels or Taiwan Host Association-recommended guesthouses on weekdays, he said.

People can get a 70% discount on admission fees if they visit an amusement park on a weekday, the office said.

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