Sat, May 17, 2008 - Page 12 News List

Room woes hurt tourism hopes

CROSS-STRAIT TOURISM As Taiwan's tour industry ramps up for an expected influx of Chinese visitors, there are concerns about infrastructure and supply

By Jerry Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Tourism industry employees work at the Taiwan Tourism Exposition in Hall 3 of the Taipei World Trade Center yesterday. The show closes on Monday.

PHOTO: LIAO CHEN-HUEI, TAIPEI TIMES

A shortage of five-star hotels in Taiwan may pose a problem for plans to open the country to Chinese tourists in July, a Taipei Association of Travel Agents (台北市旅行商業同業公會) said yesterday.

As president-elect Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has promised to begin weekend cross-strait charter flights and allow Chinese tourists to visit Taiwan, local travel agencies are concerned the number of hotel rooms would not meet demand.

“The lack of five-star hotels in places outside of major cities in Taiwan is the biggest challenge facing the nation’s tourism industry,” Peter Ting (丁萊), assistant chairman of the Taipei Association of Travel Agents, said yesterday at the 2008 Taiwan Tourism Exposition (台灣觀光博覽會).

One way to resolve the problem would be for travel agencies to break the Chinese tour groups into smaller groups and put them in different hotels of the same quality, Ting said.

Phoenix Tours International Inc (鳳凰國際旅行社) — the only travel agency in Taiwan listed on the over-the-counter (OTC) market GRETAI Securities Market — said it would arrange for Chinese tourists to stay at hotels of the same quality level in towns outside tourist destinations, as the lack of hotels cannot be solved in the short-term.

It also plans to arrange for tour groups to visit popular sites, such as Sun Moon Lake, Alishan and East Rift Valley, during the week and major cities on weekends in a bid to avoid a room shortage, said Benjamin Pien (卞傑民), executive general manager of Phoenix Tours International’s commercial and direct sales department.

Taipei-based Lion Travel Service Co (雄獅旅行社) said it was looking forward to the Chinese tourism business, even though the Chinese tourist market is rather small.

“Compared with the 103.8 million people annual domestic market [in Taiwan], 1 million Chinese tourists is relatively small,” said Andy Huang (黃信川), deputy general manager of Lion Travel Service’s integrated marketing division.

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