The government plans to allocate an additional NT$2 billion (US$67.49 million) in subsidies for a second phase of “disease prevention tours” — scheduled to start on Wednesday next week — given high demand, Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said yesterday.
Lin, who made the announcement on a trip to Taitung to promote domestic tourism, as Taiwan’s borders remain closed to international tourists, participated in a tour of the pineapple harvest in Luye Township (鹿野鄉) and learned how to make pineapple jam.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people this summer would be visiting local tourist attractions, instead of going abroad, Lin said.
Photo courtesy of the Tourism Bureau via CNA
The ministry had budgeted NT$3.9 billion for the second phase of disease prevention tours, Lin said, referring to subsidies of domestic tours from next month to October.
As the subsidies can be used for weekday and weekend tours, for independent travelers and tour groups, and tours to amusement parks, the original budget might not be enough to meet demand, spurring plans for an additional NT$2 billion in funding, which the Executive Yuan supports, Lin said.
The additional funding would be included in the budget earmarked for a third relief package to help travel agencies hosting inbound and outbound tourists, as well as businesses at international airports that are struggling to survive, the ministry said.
Domestic tourism subsidies have significantly increased hotel occupancy rates in central and southern Taiwan, as well as the outlying islands, but hotels in metropolitan areas this month had an average occupancy rate of about 20 percent, Lin said.
“We hope that we can offer relief funds to these hotels through the third bailout package. We also encourage hoteliers to be part of the ‘disease prevention tour’ packages. With the provision of Triple Stimulus Vouchers and government subsidies, they can change their business models and raise their occupancy rates. This would help sustain them over the next three months,” he said.
Lin said he hoped that the quality of domestic tours would be greatly enhanced with the promotion of the disease prevention tours, adding that the Tourism Bureau is working with travel agencies and tour operators to arrange quality tours.
The government has subsidized travel agencies to spend one month scouting out potential travel routes nationwide, which would then be introduced to the public, he said.
Tourism Bureau Deputy Director-General Chang Shi-chung (張錫聰) said that the bureau has submitted a plan for the additional tour subsidies to the Executive Yuan.
The Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics would evaluate and prioritize the various government agencies’ needs, he said, adding that the details have yet to be finalized.
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