Travel agents on Thursday threatened to protest the inauguration in May if the government does not explain its legal basis for renewing a ban on tours to China.

The Tourism Administration on Wednesday said it was to cancel a plan to reopen group tours to China, as Beijing had not reciprocated Taiwan’s show of goodwill.

The agency had originally planned to reopen tours on March 1 following a suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times

Taiwanese who have already paid for tours to China between March 1 and May 31 could still go, but a complete ban would take effect on June 1, it said.

The announcement sent travel agents into a panic, Travel Agent Association of Taiwan vice chair Eric Wu (吳雁輝) told a news conference at Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) headquarters in Taipei.

Tours to China contribute significantly to the domestic tour industry’s income, he said.

Already, 70 to 80 percent of tours in June have been booked, and bookings have already begun for summer tours, Wu said.

Legal restrictions for the pandemic have been lifted, he said, asking the government to explain its legal basis for banning group tours, especially when individual travel is allowed.

Wu said that many tour operators have already told him they plan to protest at the inauguration on May 20 if a reasonable explanation is not given.

The Democratic Progressive Party government said it would lift the ban before the election, only to renege on its promise less than a month after, KMT Legislator Wang Hung-wei (王鴻薇) said.

Separately, Minister of Transportation and Communications Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材) said that Taiwan has reciprocal tourism relationships with the rest of the world.

China has not shown any goodwill since Taiwan made the decision to reopen tours, and even unilaterally decided to alter flight routes near Taiwan, he said.

The minister also said that tour operators can merge their summer tours with those leaving before May 31.

Additional reporting by CNA

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