Fri, Jun 20, 2008 - Page 2 News List

Preparations under way for direct flights: MOTC

RULES CHANGED The laws regulating Chinese traveling in Taiwan have been amended, but the MAC has yet to lift restrictions on local govenment heads going to China

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) officials have begun preparatory work to welcome the first group of Chinese tourists scheduled to arrive in two weeks’ time.

Tourism Bureau Director General Janice Lai (賴瑟珍) said yesterday that the bureau and the National Immigration Agency have worked together to amend laws regulating Chinese tourists’ visits to Taiwan.

While the government will now allow a maximum of 3,000 Chinese tourists to enter the country per day, each local travel agency can only 200 a day, Lai said.

The bureau will regularly evaluate the performance of the travel agencies and those who gain good reviews from Chinese tourists will be allowed to increase their capacity by about 10 percent, she said.

Because the Chinese tourists are required to arrive and leave as a group, the rules have been amended to change the definition of a group to one that is between 10 and 40 people in size.

Travel agencies will have to deposit NT$2 million (US$60,000) before they can join the line-up of those catering to the new tourists.

The amendment provides for those deposits to be used as compensation to customers when an agency is unable to fulfill its obligations and clearly outlined penalties that agencies could incur.

For example, agencies will be fined NT$20,000 each time one of their Chinese clients goes missing.

The agencies can also be fined if they cancel a tour without good reason after the tourists have already left home or if the bureau receives more than five complaints from customers or they receive a low score on their performance review.

In addition to financial penalties, travel agencies that violate the rules could lose their right to handle Chinese tourists for a period of one to three months.

The quota of 200 Chinese tourists per day cannot be transferred from one agency to another or violators will face a one-year suspension.

Meanwhile, the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) has yet to receive any applications from Taiwanese or Chinese carriers for cross-strait charter flight services.

In other news, Mainland Affairs Council Chairwoman Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) said yesterday the council hopes to have the restrictions on county commissioners and mayors traveling to China lifted by next month, but she could not say for certain when it would take place.

Her comment came in response to requests for an explanation as to why the council refused Taichung Mayor Jason Hu’s (胡志強) request to take the inaugural cross-strait flight on July 4.

“We might not have enough time to review the application in time for the July 4 flight,” Lai said.

In an afternoon press conference at the council, Lai said lifting the travel restrictions on local government heads has always been a priority for the administration, but “everything must be done in order.”

“The central government understands that local governments need to be responsive to their constituents, but they must also be responsible and be well prepared before making any drastic policy shift,” she said.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY JENNY W. HSU

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