Hualien Tourism Revival Effort Debuts to Confusion

Hualien Tourism Revival Effort Debuts to Confusion
photo credit: Reuters/達志影像

What you need to know

Foreigners shouldn't expect government-sponsored discounts when heading to Hualien, but your mileage may vary.

A push by Hualien County Magistrate Fu Kun-chi (傅崐萁) to offer accommodation vouchers as a way to revive tourism after the deadly Feb. 6 earthquake have received a confused welcome from the hospitality industry they are designed to help.

The vouchers came into effect March 6 as a means to revive a local economy devastated by the impact of the quake.

The program, explained through Microsoft Word documents on The Taiwan Tourism Bureau’s website, allows independent travelers in groups of three to 19 to receive vouchers of NT$500 (US$17) per person per night to stay in hotels in Hualien County. Separate discounts exist for groups of 20 or more.

The Tourism Bureau’s website states that these hotel vouchers are only available to ROC citizens. But word hasn't gotten out, apparently – of eight hotels contacted by The News Lens, three insisted that foreigners were eligible for the discount, and one said that the offer was only valid for large groups.

花蓮溪 Photo Credit: Shizhao CC BY SA 3.0
Hualien's beautiful scenery are among its leading attractions.

In an a separate plan, train tickets have been distributed to the Hualien Commercial Hotel Union, which will then be licensed to sell them to tourists along with a hotel booking, CNA reported.

The Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) is running two extra tourist-only trains per day to make sure that visitors have a seat, though tourism numbers will be further held back by China's decision to limit the number of tour groups allowed to go to Taiwan – ostensibly out of fear or further seismic activity. It is unclear whether the train deal will draw tourists to the city, as it is uncommon in Taiwan to book a train ticket through a hotel in a destination city.

Some tour operators have cut costs on package deals and claim to be operating at a loss in an effort to attract tourists, Eye on Taiwan reported.

Magistrate Fu had initially gone further in his request, asking for general consumer vouchers to be distributed nationwide “to rescue tourism in Taiwan and especially Hualien, which should be given double vouchers,” Liberty Times reported. Consumer vouchers were given to Taiwanese citizens in 2009 as a form of stimulus after the global financial meltdown.



Consumer vouchers like these offered in 2009 are not in the cards this time.

Hualien’s tourist industry has been hit hard by the deadly earthquake, with 80 percent of hotel bookings canceled over Chinese New Year, according to the Taipei Times.

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Editor: David Green