Cabinet approves NT$30 billion in loans for tourism sector

The Executive Yuan has approved a plan to extend NT$30 billion (US$955 million) in loans to the local tourism sector which has felt the pinch of the precipitous fall in the number of Chinese visitors in recent months.

The Cabinet said that the NT$30 billion in loans is aimed at helping the domestic tourism business upgrade its hardware and software in a bid to improve the quality of the industry and eventually attract more visitors to Taiwan.

Since the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party government took office in May, there has been a 30-percent decline year-on-year in the number of Chinese tourists taking part in group tours to Taiwan amid cooling cross-Taiwan Strait ties.

Chinese visitor number was down 15.03 percent year-on-year in July, after falling about 12 percent in May and June.

According to the Hotel Association of the Republic of China (Taiwan), the hotel occupancy rate has dropped by 50 percent recently, with those in central, southern and eastern Taiwan the hardest-hit in the wake of the drop in Chinese tourists.

In addition, the National Joint Association of Buses for Tourists of the Republic of China (Taiwan) said that around 80 percent of a total of 16,000 tourist buses in the country are currently idle due to the lack of Chinese tourists.

The plunge has caused an outcry from the local tourism industry and the businesses have urged the government to provide financial support to help them survive the steep decline.

The local tourism industry has even planned to stage a demonstration on Sept. 12 to ask for better business opportunities at a time of difficulty resulting from a sharp fall in Chinese visitors.

The Executive Yuan said that the NT$30 billion in loans will be used to help local tourism operators upgrade and allow them to provide tourists with a better tour environment. The Cabinet stressed that the loans will not simply be used as financial relief.

To take on the impact from the drop in Chinese visitors, the Executive Yuan said that it will encourage more local people to tour the island to make up the shortfall, while the government will continue to make efforts to diversify the sources of foreign visitors to Taiwan.

The Executive Yuan said that it will help the local tourism industry come up with innovative tour packages which are expected to provide an insightful look at Taiwan, including the country's unique cultures, to lure more foreign tourists to Taiwan.

The government data showed that Taiwan recorded 10.44 million foreign tourist arrivals in 2015, more than 4.18 million of which came from China.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel