Taiwan: Train accident does not affect Chinese tourist numbers


TAIPAI, Taiwan – The Tourism Bureau said Thursday that China has not taken any steps to reduce the number of Taiwan-bound tourists after the deadly train crash on Taiwan’s Alishan Forest Railway last month.

“We have not heard of any action taken by China that discourages its people from coming to Taiwan, ” Tourism Bureau Director-General Janice Lai said at a legislative committee meeting.

Lai’s remarks came in the wake of a China News Service report last month that cited Shao Qiwei, director of the China National Tourism Administration, as saying that “if there is no safety, then there is no tourism.”

Many observers saw this as criticism for the safety standards of Taiwan’s tourism infrastructure following the train accident that killed five Chinese tourists and injured more than 100 others.

Lai said both the Taiwan Strait Tourism Association and the Cross-Strait Tourism Exchange Association — authorized by Taipei and Beijing, respectively, to deal with tourist exchanges — have had smooth discussions over Taiwan’s travel safety in preparation for Taiwan’s opening of its borders to independent Chinese tourists by the end of June.

Acknowledging there will be a surge of Chinese tourists in the near future, Lai said her bureau has asked local travel agencies to develop short-term travel packages that provide a more authentic experience.

She said special itineraries, such as hot springs and culinary tours, can help ease tourist overflow at popular destinations such as Alishan, Sun Moon Lake and Taroko National Park.

Lai also pledged to enhance coordination with the Forestry Bureau and the Construction and Planning Agency, two major supervisory bodies for the nation’s scenic areas, to ensure travel safety.