Wed, Jan 04, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Combined ministry lambasted

RESERVATIONS Industry professionals have expressed unhappiness about government plans to create a Ministry of Culture and Tourism

By Jenny Chou  /  STAFF REPORTER

Professionals in the culture and tourism industries yesterday expressed strong reservations regarding the government's plans to merge the culture and tourism departments into one ministry.

Government plans to create a Ministry of Culture and Tourism are part of amendments made to the Organizational Act of the Executive Yuan (行政院組織法), in response to pressure to increase trade industry performance.

Under this initiative, culture, tourism and media departments previously under the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MOTC), the Government Information Office (GIO) and the Council for Cultural Affairs will be combined to create a Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

The Research, Development and Evaluation Commission yesterday presented a draft proposal of what the structure of the new ministry could look like. In the proposal, there are eight departments with branches in the north, middle, south and east of Taiwan.

The system provides for, among others, departments of media and culture, international communications, community culture, art and tourism development.

A discussion was organized by the Association of Culture Environment Reform Taiwan yesterday to gauge the opinions of people working in relevant industries.

Professionals from both the cultural and tourism industries expressed concerns that their functions weren't being emphasized enough under the new proposal.

Chief secretary of the Tourism Bureau under the MOTC Chiu Chang-guang (邱長光) said: "Bearing in mind that the turnover for tourism is vast at 4 percent of GDP, totaling NT$400 billion per year, and that it plays a key role in the trend toward globalization, its functions should be emphasized."

Officials from the Nantou County Government's cultural bureau worried that financial resources for culture in the expenditure budget would be neglected as its results were less "concrete" than those of the tourism industry.

Director General of the International New Aspect Culture and Education Foundation Hsu Po-yun (許博允) argued that culture and tourism shouldn't be grouped together, saying that their functions were "parallel in nature."

"Culture is the spirit of life and should be placed above all else. If trade production is taken as the goal, this may decrease the public's apreciation for culture," he said.

Officials from the GIO's Radio and Television Department said that a mere department devoted to promotion was insufficient, seeing as both the culture and tourism industry depended on media promotion to survive, and that as an industry it contributed NT$200 billion toward the country's GDP.

Meanwhile, Chief Secretary of the Taiwan Visitors Association Tseng chien-hsun (曾前訓) felt that particular thought should be given to how cultural uniqueness could be highlighted, saying that after China opened up its tourism market, Taiwan's tourism industry had suffered greatly.

People First Party Legislator Lee Yong-ping (李永萍), who chaired the panel yesterday, said that a more complete plan should be provided by the Research, Development and Evaluation Commission, in order to address these concerns.

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