Fri Nov 9, 2007 1:12pm
TAIPEI (Reuters Life!) - Taiwan's hot springs operators have asked the government to let their customers claim soaks in the therapeutic mineral waters on health insurance.
On a request from the Republic of China Hot Springs Tourism Association, the cabinet will discuss next week whether government health insurance should cover visits to the island's geothermal hot springs resorts, Josef Wu, deputy water resources director of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, said on Friday.
Taiwan's 500 hot springs, housed in establishments ranging from murky roadside bathhouses to palm-festooned resorts nestled in the mountains, are said to be good for the skin and muscles.
The hot-dip tradition began in Taiwan during the Japanese occupation of the island before 1945. Former President Lee Teng-hui cracked down on spas due to their links to prostitution, and the numbers plummeted until 1998.
But Taiwan tourism officials are pumping new life into the industry with laws to guarantee sanitation and mineral water authenticity. The Taiwan Tourism Bureau estimated there were 21 million hot spring visits in 2004.