After a nearly year-long delay, the National Palace Museum is planning to raise ticket prices in April, director Fung Ming-chu (馮明珠) said.
Rising operating costs and raises in electricity and fuel prices have compelled the museum to push for an increase in admission prices, Fung said on Wednesday at a hearing of the legislature’s Education and Culture Committee, which was reviewing the museum’s budget for next year.
The museum is proposing to raise prices for individual tickets from NT$160 to NT$250, group tickets from NT$100 to NT$230 and discount tickets from NT$80 to NT$150.
The museum told the committee in March that it intended to raise ticket prices on April 15, but had to postpone the move until July due to strong opposition.
During a subsequent budget review in the first half of the year, the committee demanded that the museum suspend the planned increase.
It argued at the time that the museum’s collection belonged to the public and was not a tool to help the museum get rich, adding that it was not appropriate to consider ticket sales as a source of income.
In defending the planned price hike, Fung on Wednesday said that 18 categories of people can enter the museum for free, including students, retirees, teachers, individuals on low incomes and people living near the museum.
The hefty increase in group ticket prices appeared largely directed at overseas visitors, especially those from China.
Of the museum’s 4.36 million visitors last year, more than 2.8 million people entered the museum as part of a group, of which 2.12 million came from China, accounting for nearly half of the museum’s annual attendance.
Another 448,000 group visitors came from Japan, 93,000 were from South Korea, 70,000 were from Southeast Asian countries, 68,000 were from Hong Kong and 44,000 were from Taiwan.
The museum said it expects the number of visitors to reach 4.5 million this year.