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Travel between mainland, Kinmen and Matsu increases

By HU MEIDONG in Fuzhou and ZHANG YI in Beijing | China Daily | Updated: 2024-02-08 09:40
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Workers at the Gaoqi border inspection station offer Lunar New Year gifts to a passenger at Wutong Port in Xiamen, Fujian province, earlier this month. [Photo provided to China Daily]

With the approach of this year's Spring Festival and cross-Strait exchanges resuming, more Taiwan residents have been traveling to and from the Chinese mainland, leading to a substantial increase in cross-Strait passenger flow compared to the same period last year.

During the period from the eve of Chinese New Year on Friday to Feb 17, the estimated number of passenger trips to be made on ferry routes between Fujian province and Taiwan is expected to exceed 30,000, with a daily average increase in passenger flow of about 7 percent compared to January, according to the border inspection authority in Fujian.

There are four cross-Strait ferry routes — one between Xiamen in Fujian and Kinmen, another between Quanzhou and Kinmen, and two between Fuzhou and Matsu — making it greatly convenient for people traveling between the two sides.

During the 40-day Spring Festival travel rush period, the Xiamen-Kinmen route is expected to see 640 ferry trips, with an estimated 100,000 passenger trips being made, a 22-fold increase compared to the same period last year, said Chen Jinlai, an officer from the Gaoqi Immigration Inspection Station in Xiamen.

The ferry terminal in Xiamen has put up traditional Chinese New Year decorations, and presented passengers with the Chinese character fu, meaning good fortune, to add a festive atmosphere, he said.

The passenger ferry route between Fujian's Lianjiang and Matsu is only 4.8 nautical miles, with a one-way journey taking only 25 minutes, making it the most time-saving route between the two sides. Since its resumption last year, passenger volume has exceeded 200,000, promoting exchanges between the two places.

Cao Guangtong, an officer from Fuzhou's maritime authority, said: "There are more passengers this year than last year. Every morning, a ferry comes from Matsu to Fuzhou, and in the afternoon, it returns. Occasionally, additional services are added.

"Many Taiwan passengers take this ferry to visit relatives on the mainland during Spring Festival because the distance between the two places is short, and many families have blood ties. When they return home, they like to buy a lot of goods in Fuzhou, including various daily necessities and household appliances," he said.

A group of 50 Taiwan teachers and students took the ferry to Quanzhou last week to participate in exchange activities.

"The service was attentive, and the environment was clean. In the future, cross-Strait exchanges will definitely become more convenient," said student Yang Zonghuan, who took the ferry for the first time.

"The beautiful scenery of Quanzhou is fascinating, and I felt at home while communicating with people there. The trip has been very rewarding, and I hope to have the opportunity to visit the mainland again," he said.

Another young passenger, Guo Ya-han, said: "I have never been to Fujian before, and I am very interested in the local culture, so I took the opportunity to sign up.

"I thought I would feel dizzy on the ferry, but after one trip, I didn't feel uncomfortable at all, and I could even enjoy the sea view. In the future, I will travel to the mainland again when I have the chance," she said.

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