By Shelley Shan / Journalist
The Tourist Board on Monday raised the total reward of the travel agencies that organize the most domestic tour groups during the COVID-19 pandemic to NT $ 1.1 billion (US $ 39.6 million), against Previously announced NT $ 800 million.
People can also use travel vouchers, soon to be issued, to pay for group travel costs, accommodation and other expenses as long as the services are offered by certified operators, he added.
Transport and Communications Minister Wang Kwo-tsai (王國 材) said on Thursday that the office would allocate NT $ 2 billion to fund the distribution of travel vouchers – NT $ 1.2 billion on the vouchers themselves and NT $ 800 million in incentives for travel agencies that attract the most domestic travelers.
However, the announcement drew criticism from small and medium travel agencies, who said the program would only benefit large travel agencies who can afford large marketing campaigns to attract customers.
Industry representatives welcomed the increase in rewards money, as well as the decision to allow people to use vouchers more flexibly.
“We thank the government for listening to travel agents and making changes accordingly,” said High-Quality Travel Association President Ringo Lee (李奇嶽).
The government could subsidize 35,000 domestic tour groups if each tour group received a NT $ 30,000 grant, Lee said.
On average, each travel agency would have around 10 tour groups receiving government subsidies, he said.
The number of tourist groups that can be subsidized by government funds should depend on the size of the travel agencies, he added.
“We also hope that the government will continue to subsidize the salaries of employees of travel agencies, as we are still not able to resume our normal activities due to government regulations on disease prevention,” he said. added.
Lion Travel CEO Andy Yu (游 國 珍) said more and more travel industry operators are considering business opportunities that would be created through the issuance of travel vouchers, now that they can be used to cover a variety of travel expenses.
“We will improve the quality of domestic tourism packages to attract customers, but we hope the government can provide more incentives to encourage travel agencies to organize quality themed tours,” Yu said.
The ministry should consider adjusting the number of passengers allowed on tourist buses, given that it has relaxed restrictions on other forms of transport, Yu said.
Only a maximum of 20 passengers are allowed on sightseeing buses, in accordance with the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) disease prevention guidelines.
Separately, the ministry eased disease prevention restrictions on amusement parks, national scenic areas and rail systems on Monday.
Visitors to national scenic areas can swim and surf as long as they adhere to social distancing and other disease prevention guidelines, and wear a mask when not in the water, he said, adding that certified commercial operators can organize snorkeling and scuba diving tours.
Visitors can use changing rooms and showers as long as they provide contact details and follow disease prevention guidelines, he added.
People can also access swimming pools and other water sports facilities at amusement parks in accordance with guidelines stipulated by the CECC and local health authorities, the ministry said.
The Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) and Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (THSRC) can sell up to 80% of seats in express trains, up from 70%, he said, adding that eating and drinking would be allowed in non-paying areas. inside TRA and THSRC stations and on TRA tourist trains.
Tourist buses that are used as shuttles by businesses or government agencies can carry the number of passengers previously approved by the ministry.
Customers of restaurants in service areas of highways and highways, free areas inside train stations and hotels are required to adhere to CECC guidelines, the ministry said.
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