The Tourism Bureau wants to simplify the qualification process for tour guides in preparation for more tourists from Southeast Asia, which is part of the government’s “new southbound policy.”
However, industry sources said the efforts have been stymied due to the lack of guides competent in Southeast Asian languages.
Industry leaders met recently to discuss changes to regulations surrounding the certification of tour guides, such as no longer requiring guides to pass tests in the languages of groups they are assigned to; they only need to be competent in English or Mandarin.
Last month the government launched trial one-month visa-free entry for tourists from Thailand and Brunei.
Starting this month, visitors from Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, India, Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos will be able to apply online for visa-free entry.
Under the old regulations — which required guides to speak the language of the tourists they were leading — the industry had difficulty launching into new markets. For example, while there are plenty of language-competent guides for visitors from Japan and South Korea, few tour guides speak Vietnamese.
However, under the new regulations, even if tourists from Vietnam can only understand Vietnamese, guides can still lead them if their tour leader speaks English or Mandarin and can act as a translator, the bureau said.
The bureau said that despite the new regulations, it would continue to promote language courses and tests for guides, and would work with the Ministry of Education, new immigrants and foreign nationals to develop a pool of individuals competent in Southeast Asian languages.
There are just 47 tour guides who speak Thai, 27 who speak Indonesian and 18 who speak Vietnamese, the bureau said.
“There are 13 languages that tour guides can test in, along with accompanying remedial language courses. Nevertheless, the number of foreign nationals who pass the tests is still low, since a portion of the test is in Chinese and the questions are difficult,” a bureau official who wanted to remain anonymous said.
“The bureau plans to approach testing institutions and ask them to make adjustments to the testing system. We will discuss the possibility of increasing the number of annual tests and the number of languages to be tested. We hope to see the difficulty level of the tests decreased to encourage new immigrants to consider becoming tour guides,” the official said.
Given that modifying the testing system involves legislative changes, there is no quick way to solve the guide shortage problem, the official said, adding that the bureau will work with travel agencies and guide associations to find short-term solutions.
RISK FACTORS: ‘We hope people can cooperate and endure it ... it is possibly the very important last mile,’ Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung said Taiwan’s COVID-19 restrictions and mask regulations are to remain the same next month, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday. The center reported 42,112 new local COVID-19 cases and 85 deaths, saying that the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients has dropped to a new low this month. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC, said that the center is keeping COVID-19 restrictions and mask regulations the same due to the local virus situation, and an increase in the number of imported cases of the new Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 of SARS-CoV-2, among other risk factors. Easing
TRAVEL CONFERENCE: Representatives from the two countries exchanged views on how to increase tourist numbers, with one identifying individual travel as a trend Taiwan and South Korea aim to increase the number of tourists traveling between the two countries to 3 million, government and tourism industry representatives said at a conference in Hsinchu City yesterday. The annual event was attended by Deputy Minister of Transportation and Communications Chen Yen-po (陳彥伯); Tourism Bureau Director-General Chang Shi-chung (張錫聰); Taiwan Visitors Association chairwoman Yeh Chu-lan (葉菊蘭); South Korean Representative to Taiwan Chung Byung-won; Yoon Ji-sook, an official at the South Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism; and Korea Association of Travel Agents chairman Oh Chang-hee. Global tourism is expected to soon rebound to between 55 and
DAMAGE CONTROL: The KMT in a statement called the Taiwan Strait ‘international waters,’ after Alexander Huang said China had the right to claim it as internal waters Lawmakers and experts yesterday accused the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) envoy to the US Alexander Huang (黃介正) of acting as China’s stooge, after he said that Beijing has the right to claim waters beyond its maritime territory as its exclusive economic zone and that the US has no legal basis to assert that the Taiwan Strait is an “international waterway.” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Wang Ting-yu (王定宇) said in an online post that most of the world considers the Strait an international waterway, adding that this is important for safeguarding Taiwan. “We have seen US warships transiting through the Taiwan Strait.
The Taichung District Court yesterday sentenced to nine years in prison an unlicensed judo coach who caused the death of a seven-year-old student after slamming him onto the ground more than a dozen times. In its decision against the coach, a man surnamed Ho (何), the court cited his lack of remorse for using excessive force against an inadequately trained child and his failure to reconcile with the parents for his role in their son’s death. Speaking on behalf of the boy’s mother, Taichung City Councilor Jacky Chen (陳清龍) said the family would appeal to a higher court. Prosecutors said that Ho on