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Taiwan to set new criteria for Chinese tour groups

TAIPEI--Taiwan will soon implement new criteria for “high quality” tour packages for Chinese tourists that will restrict the number of shopping stops the tours are allowed to make and govern their transport, the Tourism Bureau said.

According to the criteria, which will come into effect Oct. 1, high quality tour packages targeting Chinese nationals can only include one shopping stop during their stay in Taiwan.

Also, the tourists must be brought in on direct flights without stops in third areas such as Hong Kong and Macau.

Chang Shi-chung, deputy director-general of the Tourism Bureau, said the new rules are aimed at discouraging the current practice in which many Chinese tour groups are taken on shopping trips in Hong Kong before coming to Taiwan, where they are subjected to yet more hard-sell shopping, for which the tour operators receive commissions from the store owners.

These low-cost tours, which are often organized by Hong Kong-invested travel agencies in China, have hurt Taiwan's tourism sector and have increased the number of shopping disputes, he said.

Earlier this month, a female Chinese tourist was physically attacked by a local tour bus driver for not making purchases in stores she and other members of a tour group was driven to.

The Tourism Bureau has been promoting high-quality tours since May 2013.

Of the daily limit of 5,000 Chinese nationals allowed to travel to Taiwan in tour groups, half of the quota is reserved for those joining tours considered to be higher in quality. These tourists are also given priority for obtaining permits to enter Taiwan.

To meet the definition of high quality, activities scheduled for the tourists must not exceed 12 hours per day, and the tour buses carrying the tourists cannot cover more than 250 kilometers per day.

Also, one-third of the stay in Taiwan must be at star-rated hotels, with the total cost for lunch and dinner reaching at least NT$500 per person per day and the number of shopping stops for the tourists not exceeding the number of nights of their stay.

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