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Straits Travel Relations Predicted to Recover
The China Airlines air tragedy on Saturday will not have a long-term adverse impact on cross-Straits exchanges, Taiwan affairs experts and travel-industry insiders said Tuesday.

Cao Xiaoheng, director of the Institute of Taiwan Economics with the Tianjin-based Nankai University, said: "Catastrophic as it was, the plane crash - as an incidental accident - is not expected to bear a heavy and persistent impact on the general situation of the economies on both sides as well as their economic exchanges."

The researcher added that the increasing exchanges of personnel between Taiwan and the mainland should not be affected either.

"On the contrary, bilateral exchanges may be given a big boost as the incident offers a chance for more people on both sides to realize how close their relationship is," Cao said.

He told China Daily that the plane crash had inspired a rare moment of co-operation between Taiwan and the mainland.

Relevant departments on the mainland have helped in the rescue and recovery effort after the jet, bound for Hong Kong from Taipei, crashed in the Taiwan Straits, killing all 225 passengers and crew.

More than 100 people aboard were planning to visit the mainland via Hong Kong.

Statistics from the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council suggest that more than 3 million Taiwan compatriots visited the mainland for tourism, business, family reunions or higher education last year.

However, tourism-industry insiders on both sides have expressed concern over an immediate commercial fallout from the deadly crash.

Media reports on the island yesterday said a number of Taiwanese people had scrapped plans to travel in the past two days and more were planning to do so in the coming days due to concerns over air safety.

The accident may be even more of a short-term setback for the industry since the summer peak travelling season is about to start, insiders said.

The crash came at a hard time for Taiwan's travel industry, which is still suffering from a slump that began last year following the September 11 incident in the United States, reports said.

Meanwhile, a female clerk surnamed Zhuang at the Fujian Kangtai Tourism Service said yesterday the number of group-tour visitors from Taiwan had dropped slightly since the plane crash.

When asked how long the impact would last, she said: "We hope it will be as short as possible."

East China's Fujian Province, the ancestral home of most Taiwanese people, is the top tourism destination for Taiwan travelers.

( China Daily May 29, 2002)

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