Thu, Nov 29, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Ministry criticized over tourism subsidies

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff Reporter

Members of the Legislative Yuan’s Transportation Committee yesterday criticized the Ministry of Transportation and Communications’ subsidy programs aimed at boosting domestic tourism, saying that they only scratch the surface of underlying problems in the tourism industry.

The ministry in May introduced a subsidy program to boost the number of tourists to southern Taiwan, and last month launched a winter subsidy program for travelers to Kaohsiung as well as Yilan, Hualien, Taitung and Pingtung counties.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Cheng Pao-ching (鄭寶清) said that the first program had originally planned to skip Chiayi County, but following a protest it not only included Chiayi, but also Penghu County.

The second program initially did not apply to travelers to Yilan City and Yilan County’s Toucheng (頭城) and Jiaosi (礁溪), but the ministry later decided that it would subsidize travel there as well, he said.

The programs have confused te public, sparking complaints and damaging the government’s credibility, he said.

DPP Legislator Yeh Yi-jin(葉宜津) said that while the number of international tourists last year grew by 0.46 percent, the number of outbound tourists rose by 7 percentage points.

It was not that Taiwanese do not like to travel, but that they do not like to travel domestically, she said, adding that traveling in Taiwan could sometimes be more expensive than traveling overseas.

Providing subsidies only scratches the surface of the problem, Yeh said.

“The real problem facing the tourism industry is that many of the artificial attractions, such as night markets, are more or less the same everywhere and do not draw repeat visitors. The only thing that is unique is the natural scenery,” she said.

DPP Legislator Lee Kun-tse (李昆澤) said that the ministry has limited the subsidies to travelers to certain cities or counties, sparking complaints from other areas.

The ministry should follow the example of Japan, where the government provides subsides to international tourists only after typhoons or earthquakes, or subsidizes only elderly or young tourists, Lee said, adding: “Otherwise, the effects generated by subsidy programs would be limited.”

About 570,000 young Taiwanese traveled overseas between January and March, Lee said, adding that the government should try to find ways to encourage them travel in Taiwan instead.

DPP Legislator Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) thanked the ministry’s subsidy program for Hualien County following an earthquake in February, but criticized a program launched last month, saying some travel agents have abused the scheme.

Some of the agents also complained that they are not familiar with the details of the subsidy program because it was launched just days after its announcement, she said.

Although the number of independent foreign travelers has increased, most of them only visit big cities or metropolitan areas, Hsiao said.

The government should help attract tourists to the nation’s second-tier cities by launching connecting domestic flights for international visitors, Hsiao said.

Minister of Transportation and Communications Wu Hong-mo (吳宏謀) promised to review the subsidy programs, adding that the ministry would introduce a more detailed plan on how to motivate more young and elderly travelers to travel in Taiwan.

This story has been viewed 2347 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top