Fri, Feb 01, 2008 - Page 2 News List

Taiwanese tourists stranded by stormy Chinese weather

AP AND STAFF WRITER , WITH CNA

More than 100 Taiwanese tourists are stranded in various scenic spots in China, caught by the worst winter storms to hit the country in half a century, officials said yesterday.

The tourists were stranded by snow-clogged roads or at airports where flights were canceled or postponed, said Chen Yi-chuan (陳怡全), secretary-general of the Travel Quality Assurance Association.

The association has warned tourists not to visit central and southwestern Chinese provinces, including Anhui, Hunan, Guizhou and western Sichuan, where blizzards have paralyzed the transport system.

Officials said most of the Taiwanese tourists were stranded in Huangshan, Jiuzhaigou and Zhangjiajie forest parks, known for their misty mountains or waterfalls.

The snow and ice storms have caused dozens of deaths, airport closures and blackouts during the past two weeks. Forecasters warned that more snow could fall in the next three days in parts of eastern and southern China.

"If the snow storms do not ease in the next few days, it could affect the peak Chinese travel period during the Lunar New Year holidays," said Chang Shi-chung (張錫聰) of Taiwan's Tourist Bureau, noting that many tourists have paid for their air tickets in advance.

Lunar New Year begins on Wednesday.

More than 1 million Taiwanese tourists visit China annually.

The association recommended several tourist spots in China where people could spend the Lunar New Year holiday.

They are Beijing, three provinces in northeastern China, Shandong Province, Shanghai/Suzhou/Hangzhou, Fujian Province, Yunlin Province, Guilin in Guangxi Province, Hainan Province and Macau/Zhuhai/Shenzhen.

The news release warned travelers to Shanghai/Suzhou/Hangzhou that they may face difficulties as a result of road closures.

People who purchased a tour package that has been canceled as a result of the snowstorms are entitled to refunds or assistance in changing their tour plans, the association said.

Anyone seeking more information can contact the association on 096-3087-631 or 096-3087-621. The Tourist Bureau hotline number is 0800-211-734, while the Straits Exchange Foundation can be reached at 02-271-292-92.

Aside from hurting tourism, disrupted Chinese air and land traffic is also believed to be slowing Taiwanese shipments to China.

On Tuesday, Asustek Computer said the Chinese snow storms are expected to affect up to 5 percent of its shipments in the second quarter of this year. Many Taiwanese high-tech firms have assembly lines in China, taking advantage of the country's relatively low labor costs.

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