Fri, Jun 03, 2016 - Page 4 News List

Ministry to help tour operators survive ‘winter’ as Chinese tourist numbers fall

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Minister of Transportation and Communications Hochen Tan (賀陳旦) yesterday said that the ministry would help tour operators survive the “winter” in tourism following the decline in the number of Chinese tourists.

Hochen made the remarks at a meeting of the Transportation Committee at the legislature in Taipei, where he briefed the lawmakers about an APEC tourism ministerial meeting in Peru last month.

However, the lawmakers questioned him on how the ministry plans to tackle the decline in the number of Chinese tourists.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lee Kun-tse (李昆澤) said that the percentage of Chinese tourists among international visitors has risen from only 8 percent in 2008 to 40 percent this year.

He said that the percentage of Japanese tourists has dropped from 28 percent to 15 percent in the same period, while visitors from Europe and North America fell from 15 percent to 7 percent, adding that the phenomenon shows that the sources of Taiwan’s international tourists have become less diverse.

Lee said that 83 percent of Chinese tourists spend most of their time in Taipei, because the government lacks a comprehensive plan to develop tourism in other regions.

The government does not have time to engage in long-term planning for the tourism sector, with so many international tourists flocking to the nation in such a short period of time, he added.

Hochen said that the nation has been handling the consequences caused by the rapid growth in Chinese tourists, adding that many representatives at the APEC meeting have spoken about the environmental impact caused by the increase in the number of Chinese tourists in their nations.

The impact is greater in Taiwan because of the nation’s proximity to China, Hochen said.

Hochen said it is important to raise the quality of tours and promised to help tour operators survive the slump caused by the decline in Chinese tourists.

The government should streamline visa regulations for Southeast Asian nations to attract more tourists from the region, Hochen said.

The tour packages offered to tourists need to be more diverse, he said, adding that tourists should be given adequate information when they arrive in Taiwan.

DPP Legislator Yeh Yi-jin (葉宜津) criticized the government for failing to protect the environment while developing tourism, particularly in light of a recent incident in which a bed-and-breakfast owner on Green Island killed a humphead wrasse, an endangered fish.

The government should declare no-fishing zones, including the habitat of the humphead wrasse around Green Island, Yeh said.

“The Palauan government estimates that the tourism revenue brought by the humphead wrasse is about NT$65 million (US1.99 million) per year and the fish can live for more than 10 years. In Taiwan, we killed and ate them,” she said.

Yeh said that the Philippine government designated a dolphin and whale protection zone, because it ascertained that three to five whale sharks can sustain a entire fishing village of 2,000 people, adding that the Indonesian government is planning to designate a no-fishing zone of 6 million square meters, as it estimates that the devil fish generates an annual tourism revenue of US$1 million.

However, the fate of a devil fish in Taiwan is to be sold in a market, she said.

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