Tue, Sep 30, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Bureau explains subsidy

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Dismissing a news article, the Tourism Bureau yesterday said that the rules of a subsidy program for Chinese tourists arriving through charter shipping services were amended to attract more visitors and that the subsidy for each tourist decreased.

The bureau made the remarks after a story published by the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) yesterday said that the bureau has gradually increased the subsidy for tour groups arriving through charter flights or charter shipping services, with the annual budget topping NT$65 million (US$2.13 million) this year.

The rules of the program have been amended to include both Taiwanese and Chinese travel agencies, the report said, adding that unlike the subsides granted to cruise ships registered in other countries, the subsidies granted to cruise ships chartered by Chinese businesses would not be used solely for marketing.

The report quoted legislators and experts as saying that the new rules are an embarrassment, as they basically pay firms money to get Chinese tourists to visit.

The bureau said in a statement that cruise ships from other nations can operate across the Taiwan Strait only if they are chartered by firms in China or Taiwan.

The bureau said that 90 percent of Chinese tourists board cruises to Japan and South Korea, adding that Japan had streamlined visa procedures for Chinese tourists arriving via cruise ships. Several Japanese ports also offer incentives to attract Chinese tourists.

To attract more high-end tourists arriving via cruises, Taiwan needs to offer incentives as well, it said.

The bureau added that the rules of the subsidy program were stipulated before it established an office in China. Since the bureau now has two offices in China, the new rules allow Chinese travel agencies to file applications at the bureau’s branches.

However, final approval must still be granted by the bureau.

“While it appears that the subsidy for each charter ship has increased, the actual subsidy each tourist receives has dropped from NT$667 per person to NT$350,” the bureau said.

“The bureau did not restrict the use of the subsidy to marketing purposes only because the businesses offering incentive tours to their employees can also apply for the subsidy,” it added.

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