Travel agency closures on the rise

By Hsiao Yu-hsin and Dennis Xie / Staff reporter, with staff writer Forty-eight travel agencies…

  • By Hsiao Yu-hsin and Dennis Xie / Staff reporter, with staff writer

Forty-eight travel agencies had filed for temporary closure or corporate dissolution as of last month due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Tourism Bureau statistics showed yesterday.

Eighteen filed for temporary closure and 30 for dissolution, compared with the 18 agencies and 25 firms that did so respectively, for the whole of last year.

In 2018, eight agencies filed for temporary closure and 49 for dissolution, bureau statistics showed.

The government has launched bailout packages, injecting more than NT$10 billion (US$3238.56 million) into the tourism sector, but the bureau late last month said that it would continue travel restrictions imposed earlier this year banning foreign tourists from visiting Taiwan and Taiwanese from going abroad, as part of the nation’s COVID-19 prevention efforts.

SET Tour yesterday said that it had decided not to renew the leases on its 20 stores in northern Taiwan after they expire later this year, and employees at those sites would be transferred to other stores.

Many travel agents have submitted their resignations due to the reduced sales opportunities this year, and it was not planning on hiring new staff, it said.

While it had initially closed all of its stores on weekend to help reduce costs during the pandemic, one-third of the stores have resumed weekend services since May, when the domestic tourism market began picking up, the company said.

Many travel agencies closed their stores during the disease-prevention period, but customers now appear to prefer placing orders online anyway, Life Tour said.

It has closed three of its 23 stores nationwide, it said.

Eight out ezTravel’s 10 stores in Taiwan have been shut, but the company said that 90 percent of its products are sold online, and it aims to fully develop its digital services.

Meanwhile, the ratio of revenue from domestic and overseas tour packages is usually two to eight, so even though the local tourism market has begun to recover, the loss of overseas travel business remains substantial, one travel agent said on condition of anonymity.

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