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Taiwan affairs chief optimistic about cross-Straits tourism
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 Wang Yi

Wang Yi, Taiwan affairs chief of the Chinese mainland, expressed on Sunday optimism about the prospects for cross-Straits tourism.

Wang, director of both the Taiwan Work Office of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, said cross-Straits tourism had great potential and he was "very optimistic" about the prospects.

Wang told an economic forum in Xiamen that since its launch in July, the much-anticipated cross-Straits tourism market had developed steadily and smoothly.

Under an agreement signed by the mainland-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits and the Taiwan-based Straits Exchange Foundation on June 13, mainland tourists were permitted to visit Taiwan via weekend charter flights starting July.

Most of the mainland's 1.3 billion compatriots knew of Taiwan's Ali Mountain and Sun Moon Lake and many wanted to see such places for themselves, Wang said.

Last year, 40 million mainland residents took overseas trips, and 16 million visited Hong Kong while 12 million visited Macao.

"Judging from these figures, I believe the number of tourists going to Taiwan will also be quite staggering," he said.

Although the number of mainland people visiting Taiwan had so far been below expectations, he said that was because many had preferred to stay home and watch the Beijing Olympics.

Besides, he said, authorities on both sides wanted the new system to get off to a steady start. The development of cross-Straits tourism required concerted effort from both sides, Wang said.

As the next step, the national tourism administration would allow the residents of more Chinese provincial regions to visit Taiwan, up from the current 13. More travel agencies, terminals and flights would be involved, too.

In addition, a new measure would allow mainland residents who have permits to travel to Taiwan, to make their journeys in either direction via the islands of Jinmen, Mazu and Penghu, he said.

He also urged Taiwan compatriots to further upgrade their facilities to attract more mainland tourists.

(Xinhua News Agency September 8, 2008)


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