Friday, August 01, 2014

Don’t kill the hen that lays golden eggs

A recent clash between a tour bus driver and a mainland Chinese tourist reveals the long-existing low tour group fee problem that may hurt Taiwan’s future tourism industry.

According to local media reports, the average fee for an 8-day round-the-island tour group for each tourist is as low as NT$20,000. Any Taiwanese with basic knowledge about local tour would tell you that it would be impossible to get a quality trip at this low price.

However, due to keen competition, the local tour operators very often adopt local price policy first to hook the mainland tourists and then arrange intensive shopping itineraries, usually more than seven shopping stops in an 8-day trip. Since there is little or no profit for the low priced groups, the tour operators including tour agencies, tour guides, and bus drivers make their buck from the kickback given by the gift shop owners. Therefore, it has become imperative that they must make sure the tourists spend enough money to buy a lot of stuff so that they can profit from it.

It does not need a college graduate of tourism or any professors of tourism to tell us that the development of Taiwan’s tourism will soon end before it even starts if tour operators are allowed to run their business in this manner.

Tour operators complain that they are aware that they are killing hens that lay golden eggs and they too wish to promote quality tourism. However, it seems that mainland Chinese tourists still tend to pick low priced groups to attend.

Government Tourism Bureau has announced that shopping itineraries will be limited effective October 1 this year, hoping to enhance tour quality. We support such limitations and expect local tour agencies to try harder to educate their future customers an important concept in tourism industry, i.e., they are getting what they are paying for. 

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