The Tourism Bureau is not considering raising the number of Chinese tourists permitted into the country per day, in order to preserve the quality of the tours, bureau Director-General Janice Lai (賴瑟珍) said yesterday.
“The number of Chinese tourists is expected to be more stable this year. Last year, the number fluctuated greatly because of factors like H1N1,” Lai said.
“Our policy is to keep the daily average quota to 3,000 Chinese tourists. There are travel and non-travel seasons in a year. We agree with the National Immigration Agency’s (NIA) policy to grant 6,000 entry permits per day during the travel season. We do not agree with the travel agents’ requests to raise the daily average quota,” she said.
Lai made the statement in response to questions from Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Yang Jen-fu (楊仁福) at the legislature’s Transportation Committee, which was scheduled to review the bureau’s operations.
The NIA has been receiving more than 4,000 applications for entry permits to Taiwan daily for a week. While the agency decided to accept 6,000 applications a day, it received 12,000 applications on Tuesday. Some travel agents subsequently hoped the government would negotiate with China about raising the daily average quota for Chinese tourists.
Lai said the bureau focused on raising the overall quality of tours along with the satisfaction rate among Chinese tourists.
It will not consider making any adjustment on quantity at this point, she added.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Yeh Yi-jin (葉宜津) urged the bureau to come up with a better solution to cope with the ebb and flow of Chinese tourists.
“It’s like people with malaria, who can feel cold now and warm the next minute. Sometimes you get only 500 to 600 Chinese tourists a day. But when it’s travel season, you could get more applications than you can chew,” Yeh said, adding that it would only worsen the quality of the tour if the situation occurs repeatedly.
Yeh questioned whether the nation’s airports were safe enough to welcome tourists from overseas.
Yeh referred to an incident at Kaohsiung International Airport on March 6, when the staff at the control tower did not turn on the runway lights before a Japan Airlines Boeing 767 landed. The pilots then informed the control tower that it would initiate go-around procedures, and the aircraft eventually landed at 10:27pm.
The Civil Aeronautics Administration said yesterday the control tower staff was answering an office phone and did not turn on the lights on the runway in time for the aircraft’s landing.
The person has since been suspended from duty.
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