Spot checks reveal extent of commission shops pay

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Thu, Oct 04, 2007 - Page 2

The Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) said yesterday that souvenir shops in Hualian and Taitung often paid 30 percent commission on goods they sold to tour guides and tour bus drivers who brought tourists to their stores.

"Thirty percent was considered a reasonable amount," Vice Minister of Transportation and Communications Ho Nuan-hsuen (何煖軒) said. "Some stores even offer to pay up to 40 to 50 percent [commission]."

The practice was discovered during a field trip on Tuesday, in which ministry and other agency officials made unannounced inspections in popular tourist areas in Hualian and Taitung.

inspection team

Members of the inspection team included officials from the Tourism Bureau, the Consumer Protection Commission, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Department of Health and the construction and planning agency of the Ministry of Interior among others.

Knowing that the practice has been going on for years and that there is a tacit agreement between the souvenir shops and tour guides, the Tourism Bureau said that it hoped that the commission charged to souvenir shops could be lower.

"Currently, we have no legal grounds to force the souvenir shops to pay less," bureau Deputy Director-General Steven Kuo Su (郭蘇燦洋) said.

The MOTC launched the inspections this week because more Chinese tourists are expected to arrive during China's National Day holidays, which began on Monday.

Based on a bureau survey last year, Taroko Gorge and Tienhsiang (天祥) are two of the top 10 must-see scenic spots for Chinese tourists.

Ho said that up to the end of last month about 56,000 Chinese tourists had visited Taiwan this year.

He said the number was slightly down compared to the same peiod last year.

Nonetheless, the ministry expected approximately 2,000 Chinese tourists to visit Taiwan this week.


Besides the souvenir shops, the team also visited six hotels and six restaurants close to Taroko Gorge and Tienhsiang selected at random on Tuesday.

The inspection team also halted 29 tour buses on the road and checked if they complied with government regulations.

The team found that nine of the buses failed the inspections, and 11 tickets were issued to the bus drivers. Two tour buses were found to have been operating for more than 15 years.

The team identified other issues at the hotels and restaurants, such as expired fire extinguishers and inadequate fire-fighting facilities.

The MOTC organized similar inspections of facilities at the Sun Moon Lake and in the Alishan areas earlier this year.