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Swimming at Taipei public sports centers not cheap: study

2012/09/21 18:23:45

Taipei, Sept. 21 (CNA) It costs more to swim in public swimming facilities in Taipei than in Hong Kong, Macau and Singapore, a study released by the Consumers' Foundation Friday shows.

The study found that the average admission fee to swim at 11 of the city's 12 public sports centers in August was NT$130 (US$4.4), higher than NT$72 in Hong Kong, NT$63 in Macau and NT$33.5 in Singapore.

The Zhongshan District Sports Center was not included in the study because it has been under renovation since Feb. 29, according to the nonprofit civil organization devoted to defending consumer rights.

Foundation Chairwoman Joann Su said Taipei is the only city in the country that has fully-equipped public sports centers, but the foundation has received calls from people who complain of high fees in the facilities that are supposed to serve city residents, she said.

Part of the problem may be that the city contracts out the operations of each sports center to a management company, Su said.

"The outsourced services at the city sports centers are expensive. The government's policy to promote sports activities might be merely benefiting wealthy people," she charged.

Apart from swimming, the cost to play table tennis, badminton and squash at the public sports centers in Taipei is also higher than in Hong Kong and Macau, but lower than in Singapore, the study found.

The cost to play table tennis in the public sports centers is NT$25 per person per hour, higher than NT$16 in Hong Kong and NT$9 in Macau but lower than NT$53.5 in Singapore.

The respective fees for using public badminton and squash courts averaged NT$130.5 and NT$143.5 per person in Singapore, NT$100 and NT$50 in Taipei, NT$46.5 and NT$42 in Hong Kong, and NT$13.5 and NT$27 in Macau.

The Consumers' Foundation questioned the pricing in Taipei relative to that in the other three economies because Taiwan's GDP per capita on a purchasing power parity basis is lower than Singapore's and Hong Kong's and only a bit higher than Macau's.

The foundation brought up the issue at a time when exercise has become a hot button issue. According to the World Health Organization, nearly 40 percent of Taiwanese people aged between 18-65 do not get enough exercise and that a growing number of people are suffering from obesity, the foundation said.

It urged the government to act to prevent its policy of building healthy cities from turning into nothing but slogans and asked Taipei to lower fees at the public sports centers to encourage more people to exercise.

(By Yang Su-min and Elizabeth Hsu)