The Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) has secured NT$22.397 billion (US$808.44 million) from the Executive Yuan’s COVID-19 special relief funding for the transportation and tourism industries, which have been severely affected by strict disease prevention measures, it said yesterday.
The funding was about NT$400 million less than the ministry had originally requested, it said.
Unlike last year, when restrictions implemented by the Central Epidemic Command Center mainly affected outbound tourism and transportation operators, new measures have directly affected the domestic market across the board, Minister of Transportation and Communications Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材) told an online news conference.
“As much as we would like to request more funding to rescue the transportation and tourism industries, there are simply too many other industries that desperately need money to get through this difficult time,” Wang said, adding that all agencies received less funding than they requested.
The relief funds would mainly be used to subsidize the operations of transportation and tourism businesses from last month to next month and cover part of staff salaries over the period, Wang said, adding that the ministry hopes the local COVID-19 situation would improve in August as more people are vaccinated.
Of the NT$22.397 billion budgeted to aid transportation and tourism operators, NT$10.046 billion would be used to subsidize travel agencies, hoteliers and amusement park operators who have experienced a decline in business of at least 50 percent compared with the same time last year, with each employee receiving a one-time payment of NT$40,000, the ministry said.
Bed and breakfast operators who have lost 50 percent or more of business due to a nationwide level 3 COVID-19 alert would each receive NT$50,000, it added.
Tour guides and tour group managers who were employed to guide or lead groups when the Tourism Bureau was promoting disease prevention tours would receive a one-time subsidy of NT$30,000 per person.
Travel agencies that have suspended domestic tours would receive no more than NT$10,000 for each canceled tour group, while amusement park operators who sustained losses due to cancelations from group visits would receive NT$200 per visitor.
The funds would aid 17,342 employees in the tourism industry, Tourism Bureau Director-General Chang Hsi-chung (張錫聰) said, adding that the subsidies to 3,128 tour guides and tour group managers would be wired to their bank accounts today.
The ministry said it would appropriate NT$4.277 billion to help land transport operators and drivers weather the effects of the outbreak. Taxi and tour bus drivers would receive a one-time payment of NT$30,000 per person.
Tour bus companies, as well as operators of disease prevention taxi fleets and drivers’ schools, would receive subsidies to maintain their operations, and to purchases disinfectants and other disease prevention items, the ministry said.
Directorate-General of Highways Director-General Hsu Cheng-chang (許鉦漳) said that 88,835 drivers qualify for subsides, and the agency would wire the funds to 79,567 drivers tomorrow or on Monday next week.
Another 9,299 drivers would collect subsides from the Bureau of Labor Insurance, he added.
The ministry would allocate NT$8.074 billion for air transport operators, it said, adding that NT$4.764 billion would be used to subsidize airlines for landing fees, use of airport facilities and other royalties.
Subsidies for airport disease prevention taxi fleets would continue through June 30 next year.
Employees at duty-free shops, and ground-handling and air catering services would be eligible for salary subsidies of NT$20,000 per month for no more than six months, the ministry said.
Financial assistance to sea transport operators and railway services would come from a budget allocated to the ministry, rather than from special relief funds, Wang said.
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