The government is preparing to roll out a third bailout package for the travel and hotel industries, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect business, Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said yesterday.
The package would be used to help service providers that are expected to experience financial difficulties between next month and September, despite switching their focus to the domestic tourism market, he added.
The ministry has already provided two bailout packages to tour operators and hoteliers, with the second one scheduled to expire at the end of this month.
Photo: Cho Yi-chun, Taipei Times
“We hope that a new bailout package can be used to sustain some of the travel service providers that are still unable to generate revenue, despite branching out into domestic tourism,” Lin told a news conference in Taipei.
“We hope that all industry representatives can understand that the government also has limited ammunition, and the package should be given to specific service operators,” he said.
The ministry might consider using it to help travel agencies that mainly serve inbound or outbound tourists, whose businesses continue to suffer as the nation’s borders remain closed, he said.
The package might also be used to help duty-free shops and restaurants at airports, he said.
The ministry has yet to finalize the details of the proposed package, Lin said, adding that when it would be announced would depend on the how the pandemic develops in other countries and on the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).
The nation has about 3,100 travel agencies, including 260 that provide domestic tours, Tourism Bureau data showed.
The bureau said that it would set a series of standards by which their applications would be evaluated.
It is assessing whether it should extend the outbound and inbound group tour ban, which expires at the end of this month, as the CECC has said that if people are allowed to travel overseas or tourists are allowed to enter the country, even under certain restrictions, it would pose a great public health risk, Lin said.
An extension of the ban would mean that people in the travel industry would have to struggle for longer, as even though the domestic tourism market is booming, it is still not enough to compensate for revenue from international tourists, which account for about 30 percent of the travel industry’s output, he added.
“We hope that the subsidies for the second phase of disease prevention tours would restore confidence in the tourism market by encouraging people to travel domestically,” he said. “This would allow the industry to get back on track and support its development.”
In addition to travel subsidies for people participating in the disease prevention tours, the bureau plans to start promoting high-end domestic tours in November, Lin said.
“While the nation’s borders remain closed, travel agencies can think of this period as time for annual maintenance,” he said.
“They can use this time to change their business models and enhance the competitiveness of domestic tour services in the international travel market,” he added.
“Through government subsidies, we want to encourage large travel agencies that used to mainly serve outbound tourists to start promoting high-end domestic tours,” Lin said. “Not only would the tours attract local travelers, they would also draw more international tourists to visit Taiwan.”
The bureau said that it is working on setting the standards that would be used to determine whether a travel agency offers high-end tours.
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