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Shanghai, Beijing residents allowed to make individual trips to HK, Macao
( 2003-08-30 07:59) (Xinhua)

The majority of residents in Beijing and Shanghai will be allowed to make individual trips to Hong Kong and Macao from September 1.

Next year marks the 20th anniversary of mainlanders being allowed to visit relatives in Hong Kong and Macao, both China's special administrative regions (SAR).

At the time, only three travel agencies were authorized to provide travel, but now the number has grown to 528.

From August 20, Beijing and Shanghai residents will be able to travel to SARs without being required to join a tour group.

The opening up of China's tourism reflected great changes in society, said Liu Chengshe, an official with China Travel International.

As the mainland's financial and economic center, Shanghai has implemented policies to promote tourism since July. The number of credit cards issued by banks has increased rapidly.

But most Beijing residents on their first trip to Hong Kong and Macao are still expected to use travel agencies.

China Travel Service (CTS) is promoting four-nights trip for 2,700 yuan (337 US dollars) for first-time travelers.

The company also promotes tours for experienced travelers who want to go shopping, said Han Xiaohu, an official with CTS.

Airline companies have increased flights for passengers who want to travel alone.

The Shenzhen branch of China Southern airlines will operate more than five daily flights from Shenzhen to Beijing.

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