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China Daily Website

Deal to boost mainland visitors to Taiwan

Updated: 2012-08-10 07:42
By Tan Zongyang ( China Daily)

Another four cities on the Chinese mainland have been approved to grant individual tourist visits to Taiwan, according to a deal reached between the two sides on Wednesday.

The mainland's Association for Tourism Exchange Across the Taiwan Straits and Taiwan's Taiwan Strait Tourism Association reached the deal to allow residents from Ji'nan, Xi'an, Fuzhou and Shenzhen to visit Taiwan as individual tourists starting Aug 28.

Shao Qiwei, president of the Beijing-based Association for Tourism Exchange Across the Taiwan Straits, said another 11 mainland cities in Zhejiang, Jiangxi and Guangdong provinces on the western side of the Taiwan Straits will be allowed to send individual tourists to Taiwan's Jinmen, Penghu and Matsu islands starting Aug 28.

Shao is also director of the National Tourism Administration.

Taiwan first opened its doors to individual tourists from three mainland cities - Beijing, Shanghai and Xiamen - in June 2011.

The pilot program was expanded to six more cities - Tianjin, Chongqing, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Guangzhou and Chengdu - on April 28.

The total number of visits made by people from both sides surged from 4.7 million in 2008 to 7.05 million last year, with an annual growth rate of 14 percent, Shao said.

During that period, tourists spent $27.8 billion, which provided a great boost to the cross-Straits tourism market, he added.

More than 1.3 million mainland tourists visited Taiwan during the first half of 2012, up 50.7 percent year-on-year, he said. He predicted that the number of trips across the Taiwan Straits will reach 13 million in 2016 and 20 million by 2020.

The Chinese mainland is currently the largest source of tourists for Taiwan, making up about 30 percent of the island's visitors, Shao said.

Taiwan is the third-largest source of tourists for the mainland, accounting for 6 percent of inbound tourists.

Shao said the huge market scale will further boost the transportation business across the Straits as well as the island's tourist reception facilities such as hotels and restaurants, which could provide more business opportunities and jobs for local people.