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Mainland tourists start historic Taiwan holiday on Friday
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A group of 760 Chinese mainland tourists will start a historic journey to Taiwan on Friday, the National Tourism Administration (NTA) said on Monday.

Holidaymakers from Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing, Xiamen and Guangzhou will stay in Taiwan for 10 days, while a small group of officials from China's tourism authorities will pay a seven-day visit, NTA spokeperson Zhu Shanzhong said on Monday.

Shao Qiwei, director of the NTA and chairman of the cross-Strait Tourism Communication Association, would lead the inaugural tour group, Zhu said.

Of the total, 353 people would leave from Beijing, while another 400 tourists would fly from the other four cities.

All the tourists would fly to Taiwan on cross-Strait charter flights run by major carriers from the Chinese mainland.

Zhu said mainland residents in Beijing, Tianjin, Liaoning, Shanghai, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Fujian, Shandong, Hubei, Guangdong, Chongqing, Yunnan and Shaanxi could apply for tours to the island.

The mainland's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits and the Taiwan-based Straits Exchange Foundation signed an agreement on June 13 that opens the island to mainland tourists for the first time.

Two days later, managers of 33 travel agencies from the Chinese mainland started a 10-day visit to Taiwan to inspect tourism facilities to make advance arrangements for the expected travel boom to the island.

Taiwan's Alishan and Sun Moon Lake are favorite tourist destinations sought out by mainlanders on the Internet, according to an online survey carried out by Ctrip.com, China's major online travel service company.

Eight to 10-day Taiwan packages available on the market range from 8,000 to 10,000 yuan (1428.57 U.S. Dollars).

(Xinhua News Agency July 1, 2008)

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