Taiwan’s top travel agency pessimistic about Japan island tour plans Taiwan News

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – A top travel agency on Friday (July 7) expressed doubts about Legislative Yuan President You Xikun’s plan to promote travel between Taiwan and Japan’s Yonaguni Island.

On July 4, a delegation led by You traveled to the island by boat, and the spokesman advocated the establishment of a regular ferry between his hometown of Yilan County and Yonaguni Island, which is 111 kilometers away, or a two-hour drive.

However, Xiao Boren, chairman of the Association of Travel Agents (TAAT), expressed strong reservations after returning from the trip, Taiwan Radio International reported. Yonaguni has serious scale problems that will hold back tourism, he said.

Xiao said the island has only 1,600 residents and lacks basic infrastructure. The boat that took them to Yonaguni can carry 300 passengers, but there are only one large bus and one medium-sized bus on the island.

The only hotel with 168 tourist beds went bankrupt during the COVID-19 pandemic. Travelers will have to turn to bed-and-breakfast accommodations, but they can only accommodate 100 people, and restaurants are in short supply, Shaw said.

The tour operator said local authorities had pledged to improve the situation and expand facilities according to demand. However, he said he was unable to take tourists to Yonaguni due to a shortage of buses, beds and restaurants.

Traffic between Taiwan and the island is also problematic, he said, because smaller ferries take twice as long, or four hours, to reach Yonaguni and are unable to sail for half the year due to northeasterly winds. Chartering the larger boat costs NT$2.3 million (US$73,500), meaning tickets cost between NT$8,000 and NT$20,000, depending on the number of travelers booking a trip.

Small aircraft can be considered, but there is no airport in Yilan County, and the flight must start from Taipei or Hualien. As an international flight, additional regulations and costs need to be considered, causing the fare to reach NT$10,000, Hsiao said, concluding that only government assistance can help kick-start tourism in Yonaguni.

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