China's new tour guide policy not targeting Taiwan: official

2018/03/09 20:35:20 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
CNA file photo

CNA file photo

Taipei, March 9 (CNA) A Tourism Bureau official rebutted local media claims Friday that China is preventing its nationals from touring Taiwan by withholding tour leader certificates, pointing out that China has actually phased them out in favor of more encompassing tour guide certification.

Liu Shih-ming (劉士銘), director of the bureau's Travel and Training Division, explained that with the 2016 revision of its tourism law, China has eliminated a differentiation that previously existed between a tour leader certificate and a tour guide certificate.

The tour leader certificate, currently used by Chinese nationals that head tour groups to Taiwan, is formally known as the "China Outbound Tour Leader" certificate, and this will no longer be issued, not only to those going to Taiwan, but to any Chinese tour leader going anywhere, he clarified.

The qualifications and authority the tour leader certificate bestowed upon the holder is now encompassed by the tour guide certificate, Liu continued.

According to a report by Apple Daily, which has raised concern about a potential drop in Chinese tourist numbers, only 10 percent of the tour leader certificates that have been issued are still valid, but will expire by the second half of this year or early next year.

The report, and its implication that China is targeting Taiwan's tourism industry by preventing Chinese tour groups from visiting the island became a topic of discussion Friday during an interpellation session at the Legislative Yuan.

Pressed about the issue, Premier Lai Ching-te (賴清德) said that the move will definitely affect Taiwan's tourism and said it is "harming Taiwan."

Liu, however, disagreed, saying instead that there are currently enough valid tour leader certificates to sustain Chinese tour groups who want to visit Taiwan.

He also pointed out that there is no clause in the tourism law, or any legislation, that prohibits the Chinese government from issuing the more encompassing tour guide certificates to those who want to lead groups to Taiwan.

Meanwhile, Lai said, the government has been working hard to attract tourists from the countries covered by its New Southbound Policy, as well as Japan, South Korea and Singapore.

This has been in response to China limiting the number of Chinese tourists -- essentially reducing it by half -- allowed to visit Taiwan since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office in May 2016.

As a result, the number of tourists each year has been maintained above the 10 million mark, the premier noted.

(By Chen Ting-wei, Chen Chun-hua and Kuan-lin Liu)
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