Greater Kaohsiung Association of Travel Agents director-general Shen Pen-li (沈本立) yesterday visited the Executive Yuan’s southern Taiwan joint services center to complain to director and former Kaohsiung county commissioner Yang Chiu-hsing (楊秋興).
Members of the tourism industry have become increasingly concerned about a recent law passed in China that bars travel agencies from arranging shopping trips for tourist groups coming to Taiwan.
Shen said that China had yet to reveal how the law would be implemented, but the industry was worried that it would negatively impact the number of Chinese tourists choosing to visit Taiwan.
Shen would like to see restrictions on the number of Chinese tourists permitted to enter Taiwan relaxed — both for group and independent travelers — and claimed that the current daily limits of 5,000 and 2,000 respectively were not sufficient.
Applications for entry for tour groups at the National Immigration Agency (NIA) were often delayed, Shen said, adding that the agency’s technical inability to handle the volume of requests it receives on a daily basis only added to the waiting time.
This has caused repeated delays for tourists and has frequently resulted in trips being canceled, Shen said.
Aside from asking for Yang to appeal to the government to upgrade the agency’s hardware and to loosen restrictions, Shen also suggested that it streamline the process of issuing passes to areas that are only allowed to admit specific quotas of visitors, such as Alishan (阿里山).
Shen said that he had received complaints from a number of tour bus companies that had been denied entry to Alishan Scenic Natural Area because a bus had arrived late, but was not able to provide proof of the cause of the delay.
Yang promised to look into the matter and try to get the agency to relax restrictions, but also said that it had already amended its policies to accommodate for the off-season.
Yang said that as far as Alishan was concerned, it would be helpful if travel agencies could give a definite visitor headcount and allow the management at Alishan to know how many people were in a group, thus determining if it would meet quota restrictions.
In addition, the NIA’s Greater Kaohsiung office said that its system was linked directly to the headquarters in Taipei, which would inevitably contribute to either system or network delays during the processing of requests.
The NIA Greater Kaohsiung office also said that the daily quota for Chinese group tours and independent Chinese tourists was mandated directly by the Tourism Bureau.
It added that it was doing everything it could to assist the tourism industry’s application processes.