Tue, Oct 19, 2010 - Page 2 News List

Ministry mulls ways to regulate Chinese tourists

TOURISM:Travel agents welcomed the opening of the market to independent travelers, but said they should not be included in the current quota for Chinese tourists

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff Reporter

With Chinese tourists soon to be allowed to come to Taiwan independently, Minister of Transportation and Communications Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) yesterday said the government would adopt several measures to regulate their movement, depending on the purpose and location of the visit.

“In our discussions about FITs [free independent travelers] with other government agencies, we’ve divided Chinese tourists into three categories: regular tourists, business tourists and visitors to the outlying islands of Kinmen, Matsu and Penghu,” Mao said.

“We need to use different means to regulate their movement,” he said. “The FIT policy can apply to tourists in any one of the three categories, depending on which one we can reach a consensus on first.”

Details of the opening, however, were still in the pipeline, the minister said, adding that the restrictions on general Chinese tourists would be the strictest, with a possible cap on the number allowed to enter Taiwan each day.

Under present regulations, Chinese tourists are only allowed to come to Taiwan as part of a group.

Mao made the remarks at a meeting of the legislature’s Transportation Committee, where he briefed lawmakers on the ministry’s policy objectives for the next fiscal year.

During the question-and-answer session, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Tsao Erh-chang (曹爾忠) said the government should adopt the FIT policy with tourists from Fujian Province traveling to Kinmen, Matsu or Penghu.

Furthermore, he said the government’s plan to allow Chinese visiting for business purposes to travel freely and independently is unrelated to the FIT policy, which applies only to regular tourists, and would therefore require a different set of regulations.

Meanwhile, travel agents said they welcomed the opening of the market to Chinese FITs, but added that the government should adopt a gradual approach and set very specific conditions in carrying out the policy.

Free independent Chinese travelers should not be included in the quota set for Chinese tourists, which is capped at 3,000 people per day, they said.

“The government should draft complementary measures to prevent Chinese tourists from staying in Taiwan illegally,” Travel Agent Association secretary-general Roget Hsu (許高慶) said. “They could entrust travel agents with helping filter ‘suspicious’ applicants. They could also ask travelers to pay a guarantee before they are allowed to come.”

Meanwhile, responding to a complaint by KMT Legislator Tsai Chin-lung (蔡錦隆) regarding high ticket prices for direct flights across the Taiwan Strait compared with those of transit flights, Mao said it was wishful thinking to expect non-stop tickets to be as cheap as commuter flights and that a small fare increase was justifiable.

Additional reporting by CNA

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