China questioning safety and quality of Taiwan tours
TAIPEI, Taiwan - Chinese media are questioning the safety and quality of tours Chinese nationals take in Taiwan, but a local tourism industry official said Sunday that the arguments are either off base or present an incomplete picture.
In a July 13 article on the website of China Huayi Broadcasting Corp., Wang Jianmin of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences said the packed itineraries of Chinese tour groups in Taiwan have led to higher safety risks because of speeding by tour bus drivers.
Wang said Taiwan should not ignore the poor quality of the tours, especially with the number of Chinese visitors to Taiwan expected to surpass 2 million this year.
The overseas edition of the People's Daily, a Communist Party organ, also published an article Saturday that detailed five tour bus accidents experienced by Chinese tour groups this year and urged Taiwanese authorities to improve infrastructure and reduce safety risks.
Roget Hsu, secretary-general of Taiwan's Travel Agent Association, said Sunday that he did not feel the criticism was warranted, adding that Taiwanese tour operators have better risk management than their Chinese counterparts.
He acknowledged, however, that the whirlwind tour itineraries around Taiwan had contributed to an increase in the accident rate, but he expected the problem to ease over time.
As more independent Chinese travelers visit Taiwan and the mainland's tourism industry develops, there will be fewer tours trying to cover all of Taiwan in eight days -- the favored itinerary among Chinese group tours at present -- Hsu predicted.
He also foresaw the rise of in-depth tours focusing on certain regions rather than those circling Taiwan in one visit.
One factor overlooked by the Chinese critique of local tour safety, Hsu said, was the role of the tours' Chinese guides.
He said most of the complaints the association has received about Chinese tour groups are from Taiwanese tour guides, who grumble about the Chinese leaders of the tours randomly adding shopping stops to make extra commissions.
Taiwanese and Chinese tour operators should have better supervision of the tour schedules, Hsu said, and he also pledged that the association will strengthen the training of Taiwanese guides in the area of tour management.
Regarding complaints about Chinese tour group leaders, Chang Hsi-tsung, deputy director-general of Taiwan's Tourism Bureau, said the cases will be handed over to China's Association for Tourism Exchange Across the Taiwan Straits.
The bureau is also working with other government agencies and local authorities to increase inspections of transportation equipment and accommodation to ensure the quality of Chinese group tours in Taiwan, Chang added.