Work­ers in Tai­wan protest de­cline in main­land tourists

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - By AGEN­CIES in Taipei

Hun­dreds of Tai­wan work­ers in tourism-re­lated busi­nesses ral­lied in Taipei on Mon­day to drawat­ten­tion to a sharp de­cline in vis­i­tors from the Chi­nese main­land that is putting their in­dus­try un­der heavy strain.

Work­ers marched down a cen­tral street in Taipei be­fore gath­er­ing atasquarein front of theTai­wan­leader’s of­fice build­ing. They called for the preser­va­tion of jobs and as­sis­tance to the in­dus­try, in­clud­ing al­low­ing the own­ers of tour buses to de­lay their loan pay­ments.

“We only want the right to work. If (main­land tourists) do not come, we can­not work. This is just our need,’’ said tour guide Deb­byHuang, 41.

“We want to sur­vive”, “We ask for jobs”, “We need food and shel­ter” and “No jobs, no life” read some of the signs pro­test­ers held up as they marched through rain to the square.

“God is weep­ing for us,” protest or­ga­nizer Ringo Lee called out to the crowd.

“He is weep­ing for hun­dreds of thou­sands of our fam­i­lies that are be­ing af­fected.”

The sec­tor was hit by a fire on a bus in July that killed 24 main­land tourists on their way to the is­land’s main air­port.

On Satur­day, in­ves­ti­ga­tors re­leased a re­port on the cause of the ac­ci­dent, say­ing the in­ferno that en­gulfed the bus was not sparked by a crash but by the driver, who poured gaso­line in­side the bus and locked its emer­gency ex­its be­fore set­ting it alight in what pros­e­cu­tors said was an act of sui­cide.

The tourism work­ers also urged the au­thor­i­ties to en­cour­age vis­its and al­low visa-free en­try for trav­el­ers from the 10-coun­try As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions as an in­duce­ment.

The num­ber of main­land vis­i­tors has fallen af­ter in­de­pen­dence-lean­ing leader Tsai Ing-wen took of­fice in­May.

Ac­ci­dents and an un­wel­com­ing at­ti­tude among some Tai­wan res­i­dents have been blamed in part for the de­cline in main­land vis­i­tors.

Of­fi­cial fig­ures show that the num­ber of vis­i­tors from the main­land has fallen by 22 per­cent since Tsai’s election, com­pared with the same pe­riod last year. Main­land trav­el­ers made up about 40 per­cent of tourist ar­rivals last year.

The is­land’s au­thor­i­ties have al­ready of­fered al­most $960 mil­lion to bail out the in­dus­try.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.