The Executive Yuan and the Tourism Bureau are to provide more subsidies for international charter flights to use airports in southern and eastern Taiwan as part of efforts to boost tourism in those areas.
While overall tourist numbers to Taiwan have not fallen, the majority of visitors try tend to limit their travels to the north of the nation.
Previously, a majority of overseas visitors to south and east Taiwan were Chinese, whose numbers have fallen due to Chinese government restrictions, Minister Without Portfolio Chang Ching-sen (張景森) said.
The government hopes that increasing subsidies for international flights to utilize airports in the south or the east coast would attract more international visitors to those areas, he said.
The new subsidies will apply to chartered flights with 100 or more passengers, but the flights must fly directly to the target areas without landing first at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport or Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport), he said.
At present, charter flights from South Korea to the south and east coast receive NT$200,000 in subsidies, which is to be increased to NT$230,000, and subsidies for those from other Asian destinations outside of Japan, Hong Kong, Macau, China and the Philippines are to be raised from NT$150,000 to NT$240,000, he said.
The government believes that barring such charter flights from stopping first in Taipei or Taoyuan would encourage visitors to consider other destinations in the nation, Chang said.
Japan has employed a similar tourism marketing strategy for its second and third-tier cities, he said.
Having foreign tourists fly directly to southern Taiwan or the east coast before visiting Taipei means they would get to see more of the nation and help alleviate congestion at the Taoyuan airport, bureau Deputy Director-General Chang Hsi-tsung (張錫聰) said.
The subsidies are given to travel agencies and airlines to incentivize their promotion of Taiwan as a travel destination, he said.
It also allows carriers to test the waters with charter flights, before deciding whether to establish regular routes to other airports in the nation, he said.
However, the policy should not be seen as an attempt to “rescue” the tourism industry, since the bureau periodically uses similar methods of promoting tourism, he said.
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