Hot spring operators to hike prices in September

HOT SEAT::Operators said the expected drop in visitor numbers during summer would make it hard to cope with higher water rates after discounts were canceled

By Chen Wei-tzu and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Tue, Feb 18, 2014 - Page 3

Hot spring operators will raise prices in September, with some by as much as 20 percent, citing the end of bulk discounts on water usage for the industry.

The Regulations for Hot Springs Water Taxation Rates and its Usage (溫泉取用費徵收費率及使用辦法) by the Water Resources Agency state that hot spring owners should pay a fee of NT$9 per 2m3 of water, but to mitigate the impact on the industry, the fee was halved until Dec. 31 last year.

Despite a mutual agreement among hot spring owners to hold prices until June, operators said the new rates would prove to be a heavy burden in summer when there are fewer visitors.

Taipei City Hot Springs Foundation honorary chairperson Chou Shuei-mei (周水美) said that the industry was heavily dependent on the weather, with more people flocking to hot springs when it is cold.

“The industry can stand the new rates in winter when there are more customers, but they will prove to be a heavy burden in summer when there are fewer visitors,” she said.

Citing the Lunar New Year holidays this month as an example, Chou said business declined by more than 20 to 30 percent because of the warm weather this year.

While it was common practice not to give discounts over the Lunar New Year holidays, some resorts were offering 30 percent off to customers, she said.

Hot spring operators working with the foundation said they would announce the new prices in July, and while the rate of increase would differ from resort to resort, the foundation is hoping to cap it at 5 percent.

Shamao Mountain Hot Springs Foundation honorary chairperson Ho Chien-han (何堅漢) said the price increase was inevitable, but the public pools in the Shamao Mountain area would maintain the same price, while the private cabins may see an increase of 10 to 20 percent.

Ho said resorts in his area would start making announcements in July and officially increase prices in September.

It is possible that resorts may come up with vouchers to be purchased at current prices to be used later, he said.