To 42-year-old Lin Hsin-te (林心德), being a tour leader not only means knowing how to serve the tourists placed under his care, it also means being able to rise to the occasion when the situation calls for it.
While leading a group of 25 Taiwanese tourists on a nine-day trip to Australia last year, Lin rescued a four-year-old Australian girl who fell into the water in Sydney’s Darling Harbor.
“By the time I saw her, she was already in the water,” Lin said. “I have a child about her age, and the only thing I could think of was to rescue her. I did not have any training in saving people who are drowning, but I was quite confident in my swimming skills.”
Lin has also helped a Chinese tourist track down an uncle in Taiwan who had passed away. He then accompanied the tourist to the columbarium in which the uncle’s urn was placed so that he could pay respects to his relative. Lin said that the experience showed him that there is more to his job than at first appears to be the case.
Lin was one of 140 travel industry representatives recognized at the annual Tourism Festival Awards yesterday.
Another tour guide, Lee Shu-ling (李淑玲), was recognized for her actions in a tour bus accident in Taroko Gorge last year in which 13 South Korean tourists were injured.
Although she suffered a fracture in the incident, she continued to assist the tourists in getting medical attention.
Lee said the government should establish a more well-rounded assistance system for international tourists, as she has encountered difficulties in trying to settle disputes following the accident.
Former Tourism Bureau director-general and China Pacific Catering Services chairwoman Janice Lai (賴瑟珍) and Ever Rich Duty Free Shop chairman Simon Chiang (江松樺) were also recognized yesterday for their special contributions to tourism in Taiwan.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said at the awards ceremony that the nation should aim to enhance the quality of travellers’ experiences by increasing investment in the tourist industry.
According to Minister of Transportation and Communications Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時), the nation received approximately 7.3 million international tourists last year, who helped generate NT$340 billion (US$115 million) in revenue.
The Tourism Bureau will soon be upgraded to become the Tourism Administration under the Cabinet’s plan to restructure government agencies, he said, adding that with a bigger budget earmarked for the administration, the quality of tours in Taiwan could be greatly enhanced with tourists enjoying more diverse services.