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ARATS chief optimistic about cross-Straits tourism
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The mainland-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) President Chen Yunlin on Thursday expressed optimism about the prospect of cross-Strait tourism.

Chen expressed belief in a group interview with Taiwan media that with concerted efforts from both mainland and Taiwan, the potential of cross-Strait tourism would be fully tapped.

The number of mainland tourists visiting Taiwan since the project was launched on July 18 has been below expectations, he said, attributing the fact to reasons including the limited number of mainland provinces allowed for the visit, the relatively high price, the not-so-diversified tourism products, and complex application procedures required by the Taiwan side.

Chen said the reasons were found after joint investigation by the tourism sectors on both sides, noting that the number of flights and terminals for the weekend cross-Straits charter flights could not meet the demands either.

After agreements on air transport were signed after consultations between the two sides during his Taiwan tour from Nov. 3 to 7, terminals and flights would be increased and daily charter flights would be realized, he said, adding that after that the number of mainland tourists was expected to increase exponentially.

Chen again urged joint efforts from both sides for tourism development. He said the mainland was considering opening more provinces and cities to the Taiwan tour, and increasing the number of package tours. The Taiwan side should also simplify application procedures and the tourism sectors relax the restrictions on the lowest number of tourists forming a tour group.

The mainland expected the measures would help attract more tourists to visit Taiwan, he said.

(Xinhua News Agency October 30, 2008)

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