Chinese tourist safety is an issue of concern for both sides of the Taiwan Strait and Taiwan’s efforts to improve tourism safety will be unceasing, Minister of Transportation and Communications Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) said yesterday.
He said the ministry will target the road to Alishan, a favorite destination for Chinese tourists, for improvements.
Addressing the issue of the Alishan Forest Railway, which is operated by the Council of Agriculture’s Forestry Bureau, he expressed hope that it could be upgraded to the level of a branch railway, possibly administered by the Taiwan Railway Administration.
His remarks at a legislative committee meeting came in the wake of a China News Service report a day earlier that cited Shao Qiwei (邵琪偉), director of the China National Tourism Administration, as saying that “if there is no safety, then there is no tourism” — an apparent reference to the recent Alishan alpine railway train crash that killed five Chinese tourists and injured more than 100 others.
“Tourism is a sensitive sector, and safety is a major factor. Efforts to improve tourism safety are an unceasing task,” Mao said. “We must do our best to prevent mishaps and to learn from past incidents to avoid repeating the same mistakes.”
During a grilling by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Yeh Yi-jin (葉宜津) on the measures the ministry has taken to improve safety for tourists, he said the Suhua Highway, which used to have traffic controls based on precipitation levels measured every hour or longer, now has readings taken every 10 minutes.
A portion of the Suhua Highway is built alongside steep cliffs high above the Pacific Ocean and offers spectacular views. Last year, however, rapid precipitation brought by Typhoon Megi caused a landslide on the scenic highway, resulting in 26 deaths, including 20 Chinese tourists.