No zero/low-fare tour groups should exist: premier

Premier Lin Chuan (??) has pledged to weed out the so-called "zero-fare" or "low-fare" tour groups, terms used to denote inferior quality package tours in Taiwan, as part of efforts to improve travel and tour quality in the country.

"In principle, we won't allow the existence of zero-fare or low-fare tour groups. We will prevent them by all means," Lin said in response to a question from Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker Liu Shih-fang (???) at the Legislative Yuan Tuesday.

Liu asked if the premier is bold enough to crack down on the travel agencies that run zero-fare tour groups and shuttle tourists to shopping stops to make up for their rock-bottom tour group prices, as Thailand did to improve tourism quality in that country.

Inferior tour travel quality, particularly in terms of safety, was exposed in a tragic accident that saw a fire consuming a tour bus in northern Taiwan in July, killing all 26 people on board -- 24 Chinese tourists, the Taiwanese bus driver and a Taiwanese tour guide.

Asked the same question at the Legislature, Transport Minister Ho Chen Tan (???) said he will study the ways Thailand cracked down on notorious travel agencies and their affiliated businesses that also targeted members of zero-fare tour groups.

But no matter how the issue is handled, safety must be the top priority, Ho Chen underscored.

He also said that travel agencies that collect high kickbacks from stores in return for bringing in tourists will be put on a black list. However, the minister failed to detail what will happen to such blacklisted agencies.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel