The Executive Yuan has approved a plan to extend NT$30 billion (US$952 million) in loans to the tourism sector, which has felt the pinch after a fall in the number of Chinese visitors this year.
The Cabinet said that the loans are aimed at helping domestic tourism businesses upgrade their hardware and software in a bid to improve the quality of the industry and eventually attract more visitors to the nation.
Since the Democratic Progressive Party government took office on May 20, there has been a 30 percent year-on-year decline in the number of Chinese tourists taking part in group tours amid cooling cross-strait ties.
Photo: Liu Pin-chuan, Taipei Times
The number of Chinese visitors was down 15.03 percent year-on-year in July, after falling about 12 percent in May and June.
According to the Hotel Association of the Republic of China (Taiwan), the hotel occupancy rate has dropped by 50 percent, with those in central, southern and eastern Taiwan the hardest-hit.
In addition, the National Joint Association of Buses for Tourists of the Republic of China (Taiwan) said that about 80 percent of a total of 16,000 tourist buses in the nation are idle.
The plunge has caused an outcry from the tourism industry, which has urged the government to provide financial assistance to help companies survive the steep decline.
Members of the tourism industry are planning to stage a demonstration on Monday.
The loans are to be made available to businesses under set circumstances defined by the National Development Council, Executive Yuan spokesman Tung Chen-yuan (童振源) said, adding that the loans are not a form of financial relief.
According to the council’s Guiding Principles on Preferential Loans to Aid the Upgrades of the Tourism Industry (獎勵觀光產業升級優惠貸款要點), companies applying for the loans must use the funding to upgrade their hardware and software to offer better quality tourism.
The Executive Yuan said it would also encourage more Taiwanese to tour the nation and make up for the shortfall in Chinese visitors, while the government would continue in its efforts to diversify the sources of foreign visitors.
The Executive Yuan said that it would help the tourism industry come up with innovative tour packages providing an insightful look at the nation, including its unique cultures, to lure more foreign tourists.
Additional reporting by Lee Hsin-fang
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