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Mainland-to-Taiwan tourism 'promising' on one year anniversary
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Though fierce in competition, mainland travel agencies pin high hopes on tourism market in Taiwan, after the travel ban was lifted a year ago.

This was because mainland-to-Taiwan tour has been soaring, against the downward trend of visits to and from the United States and European countries as a result of the spread of A/H1N1 flu and economic meltdown.

Chen Zhichao, deputy general manager of Guangdong Nanhu International Travel Service (GNITS), said "It's a life-saving straw for the tourism industry of Guangdong,"

Warming mainland-Taiwan ties and key policy changes over the past year have boosted the cross-Straits tourism business.

Statistics from the Guangdong China International Travel Service (GCITS) showed mainland travel to Taiwan accounted for one fifth of the volume of the company's business. GCITS organized 25,000 mainland visitors to Taiwan over the past year, an average of 2,000 per month.

"At the beginning of its opening, most mainland tourists were over 50, but now some young consumers have also added to the rank," said Ai Si, the Taiwan tour guide with GCITS.

Wang Chunbao, director of the Hong Kong Office of Taiwan Visitors Association, said the number of mainland tourists to Taiwan was expected to reach 1 million at most this year. Around 415,000 mainland tourists visited Taiwan in the first five months of this year.

However, most mainland trips to Taiwan were "quick and rough" as the number of mainland tourists soared. The island's famous tourist attractions often got overcrowded.

Mainland travel agencies said they were trying to further explore the market and offer routes with "depth and quality". GNITS was promoting theme tours such as "health care travel", "food and wine travel" and "wedding photo travel" to cater to different needs.

Mainland tourists have made more than 350,000 trips since the first cross-Straits weekend charter flights kicked off on July 4, 2008.

(Xinhua News Agency July 10, 2009)

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