Thu, Apr 02, 2009 - Page 4 News List

Tourism tops committee agenda

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The first of several tour groups of sales representatives from Amway (China) is welcomed upon arrival at Keelung Harbor on March 16.

PHOTO: CNA

Tourism from China was the dominant topic of discussion at a meeting of the legislature’s Transportation Committee yesterday, with some lawmakers complaining about shops overpricing goods and Chinese tourists haggling too much.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Yeh Yi-ching (葉宜津) used a popular advertisement phrase shahenda (殺很大), or “massive killing” to describe the way Chinese tourists bargain.

“The shops tend to overprice the products, forcing Chinese tourists to spend a lot of time bargaining,” she said. “Yet the government can’t seem to do anything about it.”

Yeh also said that while the Tourism Bureau required local travel agencies to charge each Chinese tourist no less than US$80 per day — to ensure quality service — some were trying to woo customers by offering travel services for only US$40 a day.

Bureau Director-General Janice Lai (賴瑟珍) said the agency had strengthened its inspection at popular scenic spots to combat overpricing.

She also said the bureau had randomly checked the prices of the tour packages for 70 Chinese tour groups and had penalized one agency for offering prices that were too low.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chiang Lien-fu (江連福) complained that the souvenirs Chinese tourists bought at the National Palace Museum were made in China.

“The green jade carved in the shape of a Chinese cabbage (翠玉白菜) is touted as one of Taiwan’s treasures, but if you take a close look at the miniature souvenirs featuring the green jade Chinese cabbage, they are actually made in China,” Chiang said. “Only the cellphone accessories featuring the green jade Chinese cabbage are made in Taiwan.”

“They [the Chinese tourists] came all the way to Taiwan just to buy products made in China,” Chiang said. “What’s the problem? Can’t Taiwanese companies make these souvenirs? Or does the National Palace Museum simply not use products made in Taiwan?”

Meanwhile, the bureau said yesterday that it had informed China’s Cross-Strait Tourism Exchange Association of an incident involving a Chinese tourist vandalizing rocks at a geological park.

The bureau said it had reported a tourist who carved his name on rocks at Yeliou Geological Park to the association. The person was identified as Chao Keng-da (趙根大), who arrived in Taiwan on March 21 and left on Saturday.

Chang Shi-chung (張錫聰), director of the bureau’s hotel, travel and training division, said tourists caught damaging natural resources may be fined between NT$3,000 and NT$15,000 as stipulated in the Act Governing the Development of Tourism (發展觀光條例).

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