Mon, Jul 23, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Tourism Bureau denies subsidizing Thai sex workers

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

The Tourism Bureau yesterday denied that it subsidized visits by individual Southeast Asia tourists after a newspaper reported that there has been an increase in the number of Thai sex workers at unlicensed lounges in Taipei’s Wanhua District (萬華).

The Chinese-language China Times yesterday said that some Thai women were on tourist visas and were told to tell police that they are tourists who want to visit Wanhua and make new friends.

The paper quoted some district residents as saying that the women had received tourism subsidies from the government by pretending to be tourists, while call-girl rings in Taiwan pay for their flight and accommodations in Taipei.

The residents were quoted as blaming the government’s New Southbound Policy for the situation, saying that it is creating chaos.

The bureau dismissed the allegation, saying that it never subsidizes individual tourist from Southeast Asian nations.

“We have created various subsidy programs to attract international tourists. These programs apply to all international tourists and do not solely benefit tourists from the nations targeted by the New Southbound Policy,” it said.

One incentive tour program was aimed at encouraging Taiwanese businesspeople in Southeast Asia to bring their workers to Taiwan when their companies host corporate tours, but the subsidies are given to the companies involved, not individual employees, the bureau said.

The funds are to be used to cover the costs of a welcome banquet and cultural performances, and corporations that receive such subsidies must spend the money in Taiwan and provide the bureau with invoices or receipts, it said.

The bureau also dismissed the comments from Wanhua residents as “hearsay,” “unverified” and “untruthful.”

It criticized media for failing to offer accurate and balanced coverage by verifying the statements with the bureau first.

The bureau aims to attract tourists from New Southbound Policy countries as a way of diversifying the sources of foreign tourists, it said, adding that the countries’ economies have shown strong growth over the past few years.

In addition to increasing tourism campaigns in those countries, the government has streamlined or waived visa requirements for visitors from them, the bureau said

Tourist arrivals from the 10 ASEAN members grew 17 percent last year, it said.

The New Southbound Policy targets ASEAN members, as well as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Australia and New Zealand.

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