Lawmakers on the Legislative Yuan’s Transportation Committee yesterday asked the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) to convene an interdepartmental meeting to come up with measures to better regulate campsites nationwide.
The committee was scheduled to review an amendment to the Act for the Development of Tourism (發展觀光條例) proposed by New Power Party Legislator Hung Tzu-yung (洪慈庸) and 15 other lawmakers, which would make the Tourism Bureau the main regulator of camping activities.
The bureau would oversee the safety of campsites as well as campsite operators, the proposed amendment says.
The nation has nearly 2,000 campsites and the industry’s annual output exceeds NT$4 billion (US$133.65 million), Hung said, citing Camping Association data.
However, most of the campsites do not have licenses to develop or build facilities in forests or nature reserves, she said.
“The way campsite operators run their businesses is similar to that of hoteliers, but the former does not have a set of rules to follow,” Hung said.
The ministry should meet with other government agencies to stipulate supplementary regulations for campsite operators so that the rights of campers can be protected, she said.
However, the proposed amendment was rejected by the ministry, which said changes would not resolve the problems.
Changes in the registered purpose of land would be the first issue that needs to be addressed to help campsite operators run a legal operation, MOTC Deputy Minister Chi Wen-chung (祁文中) said, adding that about 84 percent of campsites are built on properties where camping is not permitted.
The properties include farmland, pastures, forests and hillsides.
Although the ministry proposed amending the Agricultural Development Act (農業發展條例) and Regulations for Guidance and Management of Recreational Agriculture (休閒農業輔導管理辦法) to relax the use of farmland and patures, the Council of Agriculture said that only recreational farms can have campsites built on them, adding that the land must still be registered for agricultural use.
The council said it will not change the regulations so that agriculture can be permitted at campsites.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) said the bureau has authority only over the campsites built in areas under its control.
However, campsites used by boy scouts are regulated by the Ministry of Education, whereas those in soil conservation areas, recreational farms, agricultural land and forests are regulated by the Council of Agriculture, he said.
Campsites in national parks are regulated by the Ministry of the Interior, Lin said, adding that those in geographically sensitive zones are regulated by the Ministry of Economic Affairs.
Campsites on state-owned properties are obligated to follow the rules set by the National Property Administration, he said.
The MOTC needs to quickly hold cross-departmental meetings so that campsite operators would not remain unregulated and camping would become a family leisure activity, he said.
“The Tourism Bureau said that stipulating a specific law to regulate campsites is unnecessary, because each government agency already has laws to regulate the establishment of campsites. However, they never thoroughly enforce those laws. Local governments cracking down on illegal campsites have also proven to be ineffective,” he said.
DPP Legislator Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) said an interdepartmental effort is required as it would be difficult for the bureau to manage all the nation’s campsites, because they vary in size and business models, such as campsites in Aboriginal villages or temporary campsites used during music festivals or those used by fishers.
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