Sun, Nov 11, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Tour bus fleet shrinks as bus tours stay away

REPORT:For the first time in a decade, last year saw the fleet of commercial tour buses decline. A tourist bus group said the Southbound policy is not attracting tours

By Chang Wei-chi and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Tour buses are parked on both sides of a Taipei street in an undated picture.

Photo: Cheng Wei-chi, Taipei Times

Tour bus companies’ average fleet size and profits have decreased, indicating a slump in the sector, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications’ latest biannual survey of tour bus firms showed.

As of last year, tour bus companies had fleets that totaled 16,161 buses, down 146 buses from the survey in 2016, the report said.

The 922 tour bus companies on average owned 17.5 buses, down 0.2 buses, the report said, adding that it was the first time in a decade that the fleet of commercial tour buses in the nation decreased.

Last year, each bus generated on average NT$11 million (US$357,004) in revenue, down NT$75,000, or 6.4 percent, from 2016, while the average driver’s monthly salary was NT$43,000, NT$400 less than in 2016, it said.

Each bus made on average 420 trips, 19 trips less than in 2016, and covered 51,334km, the ministry said, adding that each bus tour company operated on average 200 days in the year, down two days from 2016.

Industry sources said that the sector’s declining performance last year was mainly due to price cuts that affected quality of service, fewer foreign tour groups and tepid economic growth that saw fewer domestic travelers.

National Joint Association of Tourist Buses secretary-general Chen Jih-chung (陳日中) said that Chinese tour groups used to require up to 3,000 tour buses, most of which have been sold, or were part of companies that went bankrupt or started catering to domestic travelers.

“The government’s New Southbound Policy has not resulted in any boost to the volume of tour groups, as most visitors are independent travelers or on business and not part of a tour group,” Chen said.

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