The government should offer greater financial support to the tourism industry, as the industry faces tougher circumstances this year, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) said yesterday.
This year’s domestic COVID-19 situation is more serious than last year’s, KMT Culture and Communications Committee director-general Alicia Wang (王育敏) told an online news conference from KMT headquarters in Taipei.
While Taiwanese could travel domestically and engage in so-called “revenge spending” last year, there have been no domestic tours since a major local COVID-19 outbreak was detected in May, she said.
With the repeated extension of a nationwide level 3 COVID-19 alert issued on May 19, operations at travel companies have come to a near halt, Wang said.
“However, the government’s ‘Relief 4.0’ is even worse than last year’s relief package,” she said, referring to the latest expansion of the Executive Yuan’s COVID-19 relief program.
“The government has let travel operators down,” she added.
Last year, travel agencies were eligible for three months of subsidies totaling NT$300,000 to help with operations, Wang said, adding that this is no longer the case.
Under Relief 4.0, businesses in the tourism industry may apply for a one-time subsidy of NT$40,000 per employee over a three-month period to help cover workers’ salaries, she said.
That would be the equivalent of about NT$10,000 per month, Wang said, adding that it was “not enough,” as it might take time for life to return to normal.
The government has also offered subsidies to travel agencies of up to NT$10,000 per tour group, for a maximum of eight groups, to help cover their losses, she said, referring to a scheme in Relief 4.0 to subsidize losses from canceled tours.
However, that amount would not be enough to offset their costs, Wang added.
The tourism sector has been among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, said KMT Legislator Hung Mong-kai (洪孟楷), who sits on the legislature’s Transportation Committee.
He reiterated calls from the KMT for the government to give a cash handout of NT$10,000 to all Taiwanese, adding that the money would be “life-saving.”
The universal cash handout scheme would help maintain the livelihoods of people who had previously not been included in the government’s COVID-19 relief plans, he said.
He urged the Democratic Progressive Party administration not to “ignore” the policy proposal just because it was crafted by the KMT.
Since the level 3 COVID-19 alert went into effect, travel agencies have been “suffocating,” said Chen Yi-hsuan (陳怡璇), a representative from the Travel Agent Association.
She said she hoped that workers in the travel industry, such as drivers, would be prioritized to receive COVID-19 vaccination, as they would come into contact with the public once restrictions are eased or lifted.
Additional reporting by CNA
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