Domestic travel vouchers issued by the Tourism Bureau would expire at the end of this month as planned and the budget for unused vouchers would be used to subsidize travel agencies that organize creative group tours, Minister of Transportation and Communications Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材) said yesterday.
In addition to the Quintuple Stimulus Vouchers that were distributed by the Executive Yuan in October last year, other government agencies issued a total of 13 million secondary vouchers, which were distributed through free draws, to boost growth in different sectors.
The bureau issued 2.4 million domestic travel vouchers, with each voucher having a face value of NT$1,000 (US$34.42). By Thursday, 2.38 million of them had been claimed, of which about 1.34 million had been used, which cost NT$1.34 billion, bureau data showed.
The vouchers motivated at least 2.68 million people to travel within Taiwan and helped generate value output of NT$6.54 billion, the bureau said in a report.
Many lawmakers have asked whether the ministry would extend the expiry date of the travel vouchers to June 30, as about 44 percent of the people who claimed them have not used them.
They are less likely to use them now amid rising COVID-19 cases, lawmakers added.
Wang told lawmakers on the legislature’s Transportation Committee that the vouchers would expire on April 30 as planned.
“We have estimated that about NT$1 billion would be left after the domestic travel vouchers expire. The remaining funds will be used to subsidize travel agencies offering creative group tours, which would benefit restaurateurs, hoteliers, tour bus operators, travel agencies and shopping service operators,” he said, adding that it would help maintain the popularity of domestic travel.
Tourism Bureau Director-General Chang Shi-chung (張錫聰) said vouchers issued by the Sports Administration and other government agencies would also expire at end of this month, as decided in an interdepartmental meeting at the National Development Council earlier this year.
Despite the rise of COVID-19 cases in Taiwan, people should feel free to take part in domestic tours and visit amusement parks as long as they follow the disease prevention guidelines issued by the Central Epidemic Command Center, Wang said.
The nation’s quarantine hotels offer about 30,000 rooms in total, about half of which are vacant, he said.
“Demand for quarantine hotel rooms has fallen, because air travelers returning to Taiwan can now quarantine at home. Should demand rise again, the Tourism Bureau can discuss with local government officials about raising the supply of quarantine hotel rooms,” he said.
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