Hualien tourism subsidies planned

By Hsiao Yu-hsin  /  Staff reporter

Tue, Feb 13, 2018 - Page 1

The Tourism Bureau yesterday announced a NT$55.5 million (US$1.89 million) support program for Hualien County’s tourism industry in the aftermath of the deadly earthquake on Tuesday last week and the resulting wave of holiday travel cancelations.

The magnitude 6.0 earthquake that rocked the nation at 11:50pm on Tuesday caused 16 deaths, with one person still listed as missing and presumed dead, 285 injured and 493 relocated, according to National Fire Agency data as of 4pm yesterday.

Although most damage occurred in Hualien City, where four buildings were badly damaged, many other parts of the county have since been affected, as many would-be visitors cancel their room bookings and train tickets for the Lunar New Year holiday and afterward.

The county’s tourism industry said it saw up to NT$8 billion in losses last week.

The National Development Council yesterday held a meeting in Hualien with representatives of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, the Tourism Bureau and other agencies, bureau Director-General Chou Yung-hui (周永暉) said.

They decided to launch a bailout program, including NT$10 million to promote tours between this month and July, NT$5 million to encourage travel and hospitality agencies to offer discounts and NT$2 million for the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) and Taiwan Tour Bus to increase their promotional activities nationwide, he said.

From now through December, the government will provide NT$30 million for financing and NT$60 million for facility reconstruction, with Farglory Ocean Park (遠雄海洋公園) and Yiyuan Resort (怡園渡假村) among those to receive subsidies, he said.

From April to December, it plans to spend NT$2.5 million on water activities, while utilizing its current budget to promote sightseeing tours of Taiwan in Japan, South Korea, China and Southeast Asian nations, he said.

During the Lantern Festival celebrations — the festival itself falls on the 15th day of the first lunar month — the bureau will invite foreign journalists to visit Hualien to show them that most places in the county did not suffer quake damage, he said.

Chou called on the public to help the county recover from the quake.

The TRA also said it would extend the booking period for group tickets by suspending the restriction on booking tickets just two months in advance, which would give travel agencies more flexibility in arranging tours to Hualien County.