Minister of Transportation and Communications Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材) yesterday assured lawmakers that there would not be any consumer disputes resulting from tour cancelations when the ban on group travel to China is lifted in March next year.
Wang made the remarks at the legislature’s Transportation Committee, which was scheduled to review the budget plans of the agencies under the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC).
However, lawmakers expressed concern over conflicting statements about the policy from the MOTC and Mainland Affairs Council (MAC).
Photo: Lo Pei-de, Taipei Times
MOTC officials said two-way group travel across the Taiwan Strait would return to normal in March and travel agencies could begin organizing tours, while MAC officials reiterated the number of Taiwanese group travelers allowed to visit China would still be capped at 2,000 per day, with the same cap applying to Chinese tourists to Taiwan.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Hung Meng-kai (洪孟楷) asked Wang exactly how many Taiwanese group travelers would be allowed to visit China per day when the ban is lifted in March, and whether travel agencies would be asked to cancel tours if the number of Taiwanese tourists exceeds the daily cap set by government.
Hung also pressed Wang for the adjustments on the cap that the ministry would make when more than 2,000 group travelers are to visit China per day.
“We had estimated that there would not be too many travelers at the beginning. The cap is adjustable, and I would not let disputes resulting from tour cancellations happen,” Wang said.
“I do not care what the MAC would say. The conclusion from cross-departmental meetings for now is that all group tours to China would be allowed in March so long as travel agencies have enough tourists to form tour groups,” Wang said.
Hung also suggested that a minister without portfolio be assigned to coordinate between the MOTC and Ministry of Labor about bringing in migrant workers to address the labor shortage problem facing the hotel and accommodation industry.
“The MOTC estimated that the hotel and accommodation operators are short of 3,000 workers, but the labor ministry is mainly concerned about the employment of women, senior workers and economically disadvantaged individuals. While most countries are busy attracting international tourists around the globe, officials in Taiwan are minding their own businesses and are busy passing the buck,” Hung said.
Wang said he had maintained communication with Minister of Labor Hsu Ming-chuen (許銘春).
“The country has not yet opened the service sector to migrant workers. The labor ministry is concerned that other service industry operators might request to follow suit if it makes an exception to hotels and accommodation service operators,” Wang said.
Tourism Administration Director-General Chou Yung-hui (周永暉) said that the labor ministry is to convene a meeting to review the administration’s proposal about recruiting migrant workers to address the labor shortage problem in the hotel and accommodation industry, adding that it has provided more analyses this time as requested by the labor ministry.
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