The Ministry of Transportation and Communications is temporarily suspending its funding to promote tours to Yilan, Hualien and Taitung counties, as well as outlying islands, and would instead focus on promoting tours to the west coast, MOTC Minister Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said yesterday.
Lin made the announcement before attending the Taiwan Island-Hopping Cruise Ship Tours Summit in Taipei.
As Taiwan has been able to control the spread of COVID-19 and it is summertime, the nation has seen the number of domestic travelers grow astronomically, particularly in Yilan, Hualien and Taitung, as well as the outlying Penghu, Kinmen and Lienchiang counties, Lin said.
Photo: Lin Ching-lun, Taipei Times
The government had planned to subsidize each city and county NT$10 million (US$338,673) to cover their tourism marketing expenses, Lin said.
“We have decided to temporarily suspend the funding for marketing tours to Yilan, Hualien and Taitung and the outlying islands, and focus on promoting tours to northern and central Taiwan, as well as other places on the west coast,” Lin said.
Lin’s remarks upset officials in Yilan and Hualien, who urged the central government to give them the subsidies for marketing expenses as promised.
The Tourism Bureau said that the subsidies had not been canceled, just suspended.
“As tourists to these counties surge dramatically during the summer break, which is the high season for travel, we have asked the county government officials there to avoid hosting marketing events in the summertime or for popular travel destinations, and they have all agreed to do so,” the bureau said.
As Lion Travel Service Co is to launch island-hopping tours around Taiwan’s three main outlying islands on Sunday using the Explorer Dream, a cruise ship owned by Genting Hong Kong, Lin said that Taiwan is a maritime country, and the development of island-hopping tours is in line with the transportation ministry’s 10-year “Blue Highway” policy.
The Maritime and Port Bureau and Tourism Bureau have also been preparing for the launch of the “Year of Island-Hopping Tour” in 2023, Lin added.
Although the global cruise ship market has been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Taiwan has been able to create island-hopping tours using cruise ships, and the new tour arrangement has been warmly received by the public, he said.
Even though the nation is still restricting international travel, Taiwan proper and the nation’s outlying islands are safe places to travel to, Lin added.
Yesterday’s summit brought together government officials from Keelung, Penghu, Kinmen and Lienchiang to exchange views on the development of cruise ship industry in the nation, Lin said, adding that it is also an opportunity for all parties to examine the island-hopping tours with regard to travel routes, port infrastructure, cruise ships and tours on the islands.
The Maritime and Port Bureau said that this year’s island-hopping tours would run from Sunday to October.
Starting in October, there would be cruise ship tours around Taiwan proper, which would stop at Keelung, Taichung, Kaohsiung and Hualien before returning to Keelung.
Next year, the bureau would promote cruise ship tours using smaller 4,000-tonne to 10,000-tonne ships, the bureau said, adding that these ships can dock on smaller islands such as Dongyin Island (東引) in Lienchiang.
Should the pandemic ease, the bureau would allow international tourists to fly to nation and join the island-hopping tours, it said.
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