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June 24, 2017

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Bureau to set new fee rule for Chinese tour groups

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Tourism Bureau yesterday said Beijing and Taipei have reached a consensus on requesting designated Chinese travel agencies to pay Taiwanese travel agencies the full portion of fees before allowing visitors to enter Taiwan.

The Executive Yuan yesterday held a cross-ministry meeting to discuss the issues of Chinese group tourists in Taiwan. Tourism Bureau Deputy Director-General Chang Shi-chung (張錫聰) said the designated Taiwanese travel agencies refer to those travel companies that do not arrange an abundance of shopping schedules for the Chinese tourists.

Chang said in order to ensure that Taiwanese travel agencies cooperate with the Chinese travel agencies and receive their pay on time, the said policy will be carried out in October at the earliest.

Only when the designated tour groups pay their tour fees and present the remittance receipts will the Taiwanese immigration authorities grant entry permits for the group tourists, Chang said.

Chang went on to say that the policy is a huge change for both sides of the strait, adding that China "basically" agrees with Taiwan's proposal, but a further discussion before October is needed.

Cabinet spokesman Sun Lih-chyun (孫立群) said Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) during the meeting requested the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) to amend related regulations to meet the upcoming policy.

New Measures to Carry Out

Given that some of the Chinese tour guides would force his or her tour members to pay admission tickets for places that do not require entrance fees, or push the tourists to buy expensive items in designated jewelry shops, the government plans to stop offering entry permits to those tour guides to enter Taiwan, Sun said. The spokesman further said Jiang has requested the National Immigration Agency (NIA) to draft the said measure as soon as possible.

Chang said some of the Chinese travel agencies will work with Taiwanese travel agencies to offer a choice of low-price tour package for the Chinese travelers, but after the Chinese tourists arrive in Taiwan they are forced to go to certain jewelry or luxury goods stores. In return, the travel agencies will receive commissions or rewards from the luxury goods stores to make up for their loss of tour fees, Chang said, noting that such situations will lower the quality of Taiwan's tourism.

The premier has requested relevant ministries to draft measures to manage the number of qualified Chinese tour groups entering Taiwan to improve the aforementioned situation, Sun said.

Chang said some of the stores are invested in by Hong Kong-based companies, noting that, as far as his bureau knows, there are no stores that are backed by Chinese companies.

The Ministry of Finance (MOF) has discovered over 4,000 cases of Chinese group tourists visiting stores that have evaded their income tax and business tax between January 2013 and July 2014, Sun said.

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