Japanese hotel fines Taiwanese travelers for smoking
A Taiwanese couple was fined 24,000 Japanese yen (NT$6,000) by a five-star hotel in Karuizawa, Japan for smoking in their non-smoking room, according to an ETTV News ( ) report.
The couple refused to pay the fine, however, alleging that their tour guide failed to give them a heads up about the non-smoking policy. They also rejected the payment on the basis that the tour guide did not haggle the amount of fine on their behalf.
The hotel emailed the tour guide indicating the room number of the unit the couple stayed in along with photos, which show that empty beer cans were stuffed with cigarette butts. The message arrived when the travel group had checked out and was in the middle of an activity.
Since the room smelled of cigarette smoke, it has to stay vacant for one week and therefore the hotel charged 24,000 Japanese yen.
The couple, who has returned to Taiwan, claimed they did not have that many cigarettes at first. They later said they were just smoking outside but trashed the cigarette butts indoors.
According to the tour guide, surnamed Wu, there was no ashtray in the room and a sign says clearly that smoking is not allowed.
The tour guide expressed disappointment over the incident. The travel agency can pay the fine, and it is not a big deal, he said. However, such outrageous behavior hurts Taiwanese people’s image overseas, he said, adding that the hotel may refuse to accept travel groups in the future.
The five-star hotel is well-known in Karuizawa, and charges nearly 23,000 yen per night. “If the hotel chain refuses to take travel groups from Taiwan, I think it’s not a good thing for Taiwanese people,” Su said.
The travel agency said this particular incident is really unfortunate and it will cover the loss if the couple will not comply.
The agency said it only had experience filing customer complaints on behalf of tourists, and the couple was its first unreasonable customers.