Japan trying to solve shortage of tour buses: local travel agent
April 20, 2014, 12:25 am TWN
TAIPEI--The Japanese government is making moves to increase the number of buses available to foreign tour groups amid a shortage that threatens to affect holidaygoers during the peak travel season, a travel industry leader in Taiwan said.
The shortage of tour buses has plagued popular destinations in Japan, including Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Tateyama Kurobe, said Roget Hsu, secretary-general of the Travel Agent Association of ROC, Taiwan.
The Kaohsiung Association of Travel Agents has attributed the problem to a surge in visitors from Taiwan, China and the Philippines, along with local regulations that prevent buses from carrying passengers outside of their designated jurisdictions.
Later in the day, Japan had made an "initial agreement" to relax rules on bus operators to increase availability, Hsu said, following consultations between semi official diplomatic agencies — Taiwan's Association of East Asian Relations and Japan's Interchange Association.
The Japanese government is expected to make a formal announcement on the new regulations in the next day or two, he added.
Although the shortage of buses could be resolved soon, the costs of transportation and accommodation for visitors to Japan have already risen, according to Taiwanese tourism operators.
Travel expenses for Japan-bound travelers could increase by 10-20 percent in July and August, the peak season, they predicted.
Previous estimates from the Travel Agent Association said that by the end of May, some 15,000 Taiwanese tourists to Japan in 500 tour groups could end up with no buses to move them around.