Scenic spots may start charging

TOURISM::Minister of Transportation and Communications Yeh Kuang-shih said if the areas remained free, it would be akin to subsidizing visits for Chinese tourists

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Wed, Mar 06, 2013 - Page 3

Visitors to a number of the nation’s popular scenic spots could soon be required to pay an admission fee, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) said yesterday.

The plan to start charging tourists was proposed by the Tourism Bureau, whose maintenance costs at various scenic spots under its jurisdiction have risen drastically due to an increase in the number of domestic and international tourists.

The offices which run several scenic areas have even proposed to start charging visitors for the use of public toilets on site, as the costs of purchasing toilet paper and repairing toilets have skyrocketed.

Minister of Transportation and Communications Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) said that visitors should be charged for entering the scenic areas, but disagreed with the proposal to make visitors pay to use the public restrooms.

“Not only is this a bit inhumane, it could also generate some side effects,” he said. “Not wanting to pay to use the restrooms, some Chinese tourists could choose to do their business in public instead.”

Yeh said the nation’s scenic areas have seen an influx of Chinese tourists.

Should the entrance to these areas remain free, it would be like using taxpayers’ money to subsidize visits by Chinese tourists, Yeh said.

With the increase in visitor numbers, Yeh said the nation needs to expand investment in tourism-related infrastructure, which needs additional sources of funding other than the Tourism Development Fund.

“People who use a facility should pay for it. That is the fairest thing to do,” he said, adding that it would help regulate the entry to the popular scenic areas and draw tourists to the nation’s less popular yet free scenic spots.

“If entry to the scenic spots remains free, some private investors may be hesitant to increase investment in entertainment facilities, which would hurt the nation in the long run,” he said.

Aside from the entrance fee charge, Yeh said that scenic areas could increase the fees for parking facilities.

The Tourism Bureau said it is scheduled to implement a new pricing scheme for scenic areas under its management.