Tue, May 29, 2018 - Page 3 News List

DPP lawmakers criticize Tourism Bureau

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Tourism Bureau Director-General Chou Yung-hui (周永暉) was yesterday grilled by DPP lawmakers who vowed to strictly scrutinize the bureau’s international marketing budget following a series of reported blunders in its materials aimed at the US market.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators Cheng Pao-ching (鄭寶清) and Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) mentioned blogger Kathy Cheng’s criticism of the bureau’s efforts and criticized the bureau for blocking her from commenting on its social media accounts.

Noting the bureau budgets about NT$1 billion (US$33.41 million) annually for overseas campaigns, Lin asked how the money is spent.

The contractor in charge of the campaign for Middle Eastern nations, who was paid NT$15 million, had created a Web site for free, but the site has only attracted about 6,000 page views, Lin said.

The bureau’s Web site aimed at Vietnamese has only 600 page views, while a site in Indonesian on Taiwan was not been authorized by the bureau and has been accused of copyright infringement, Lin said.

Chou said the bureau would review all these problems and seek to address them at meetings with officials at its overseas branches.

Cheng also took aim at the Ministry of Transportation and Communications over the bureau’s NT$40 million travel subsidy program announced on May 15 for tour groups that visit southern Taiwan and Penghu County.

Tourist visits to Chiayi County dropped by almost 40 percent last year, and yet the county was not included in the subsidy scheme.

The ministry would recommend that Executive Yuan include the county in the program, Deputy Minister of Transportation and Communications Chi Wen-chung (祁文中) said.

Under the program, members of tour groups whose itineraries include weekday visits to destinations or tourism to any of five areas — the Siraya National Scenic Area in Tainan, the Maolin National Scenic Area in Kaohsiung, the East Coast National Scenic Area or the Penghu National Scenic Area — and who spend at least one night in one of the areas, would receive NT$500 per day for accommodation.

However, the subsidies are capped at NT$30,000 per group for those visiting eastern or southern Taiwan, and NT$50,000 per group for Penghu, the bureau said.

Independent tourists traveling in a group of at least three are also eligible for an accommodation subsidy as long as they spend two consecutive nights at the same hotel: the second night’s stay would be free.

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