The Tourist Office will contract bank loans

The borrowed money could be available next month, as the bureau announced plans to sign contracts with the two banks at the end of this month.

  • By Shelley Shan / Journalist

The Tourism Board will obtain loans from the Bank of Taiwan and the Union Bank of Taiwan, for a total of NT $ 5.9 billion ($ 210.65 million), to replenish the Development Fund of the tourism, which was exhausted at the end of last year.

It is the first time since the creation of the fund in 1999 that the office needs to contract bank loans to replenish it.

The fund was created to promote travel to Taiwan, the office said.

Ninety percent of the fund’s revenue comes from airport service charges paid by outgoing travelers, he said, adding that the fund collects half of each NT $ 500 charge.

However, border controls imposed to contain the spread of COVID-19 have dramatically reduced the number of travelers, causing fund revenues to drop to almost zero, he added.

The bureau said he was forced to take out bank loans to continue promoting tours in Taiwan.

The borrowed money could be available next month, as the bureau announced its intention to sign the loan contracts with the two banks at the end of this month.

The loans total NT $ 5.9 billion, of which NT $ 3.21 billion is allocated for the second half of this year and NT $ 2.68 billion for the first six months of next year.

The money would be used to cover the “Taiwan Tourism 2025” campaign, but could not be used for relief payments or subsidies to tour operators, the office said.

Once the country’s borders reopened and there were travelers again to pay the airport service charge, the loans would be repaid, office officials said.

Before the borders reopened, the office would carefully manage the amount borrowed from banks to avoid large interest payments, they said.

Before COVID-19, the fund grew every year thanks to an increase in the number of travelers. At one point, the office used the fund to subsidize domestic tourism during slack periods.

Fund spending has also exploded in recent years, reaching NT $ 21.3 billion.

The fund has also been used to subsidize travel operators affected by the pandemic and to support government infrastructure projects.

The fund had fallen to NT $ 176 million by the end of last year.

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