Sun, Sep 07, 2008 - Page 2 News List

Tourism sector still awaits ‘boom’

By Lin Kui-Hsiu and Hsieh Ying-Chung  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Greater efforts must be made to appeal to more Western, Japanese and Taiwanese tourists to revive the nation’s waning tourism business, the travel industry said after the number of Chinese tourists visiting Taiwan was found to be much lower than expected.

Statistics from the Sun Moon Lake National Scenic Area Administration Tourism Bureau showed that this summer Sun Moon Lake (日月潭) — one of the most popular tourist destinations in Taiwan — received only 290,000 visitors, or 60,000 less than last summer.

Meanwhile, statistics from the Forestry Bureau showed that 111,300 people had visited Alishan (阿里山) in June and July, 400 more than the number for the same period last year.

While the number of visitors to Alishan held steady, there were no signs of improvement anytime soon, the travel industry said.

Shop owners and hoteliers at both locations said that allowing a greater number of Chinese tourists to come to Taiwan had not resulted in the stellar business opportunities and revenues the government had promised, adding that only one or two travel agencies were willing to collaborate with local hotels on the condition that management agree to slash prices well below par.

For example, Sun Moon Lake’s Eihan Resort began work last year to expand its number of rooms from 66 to 101.

The hotel saw a 60 percent increase in its occupancy rate after the renovations.

The hotel manager, however, said the hotel had had to cut its room rate from NT$4,000 to NT$2,500 to be allowed to deal with travel agencies.

Because of the drop in tourists, the occupancy rate at Hotel Del Lago in June and July fell from 53 percent to 51 percent compared with the same period last year.

The Lalu, the lake’s best-known high-end luxury hotel, reported an occupancy rate between 80 percent and 90 percent, but less than 10 percent were Chinese tourists.

Chen Cheng-hsing (陳正興), the manager of Alisan House, said that most Chinese tourists only had meals at the hotel and did not stay overnight.

His competitor, Liao Ching-tai (廖景泰) of Wenshan Hotel, agreed, saying that most of his overnight guests were local tourists or visitors from Japan and Southeast Asia.

Also See: County official says Beijing to blame for low tourist numbers

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