Date set for individual tours to Taiwan

08:15, June 13, 2011      

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A TRIAL program of individual tours to Taiwan for people from Shanghai and two other Chinese mainland cities will begin on June 28.

Wang Yi, director of the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office, announced the plan at the third Strait Forum yesterday, Xinhua news agency reported.

The forum opened in the coastal city of Xiamen a day earlier.

Wang said the program will cover residents in Shanghai, Beijing and Xiamen in Fujian Province in its first stage.

The two sides also agreed to give the green light to Fujian residents for individual travel to Taiwan's Kinmen, Matsu and Penghu.

The mainland and Taiwan will increase the number of cross-strait passenger flights by more than 50 percent to 558 per week, the forum was told.

The mainland has added four stops for cross-strait flight services in the eastern cities of Yancheng, Wenzhou and Huangshan and the northwestern city of Lanzhou, Wang said.

Taiwan has added its southern city of Tainan as a stop, he said, adding that there are now 50 stops for cross-strait flights on both sides.

Regular direct flights across the strait have been operating since July 2008, when Taiwan authorities lifted a partial ban on mainland tourists visiting the island.

The number of mainland tourists traveling to the island reached 2.34 million as of the end of May, the forum was told. There are also an increasing number of mainland business travelers and government delegations visiting Taiwan, a mainland tourism official said.

Shanghai travel agencies said they were fully prepared for the individual travel program.

"All we're waiting for is the details of the contract signed by the mainland and Taiwan, thus people will know the conditions for applying for individual trips to Taiwan," said Dong Ming, general manager of the Jinjiang International Travel Service Co Ltd. "As soon as the details are announced, we'll accept people booking the packages."

Agencies said that individual packages to Taiwan will be a bit more expensive than group tours. Flight tickets and room charges for individuals would be higher than those for groups, and individuals should be prepared to pay about 25 to 30 percent more than those on group packages.

"For example, an eight-day trip to Taiwan costs about 6,000 yuan (US$857) for group tourists, and the same trip, with the same dining and accommodation standard, would cost 8,000 to 9,000 yuan for individuals," said Wang Yan, general manager of Shanghai Airlines International Travel Service Co Ltd.

The two sides yesterday also agreed to cooperate more on nuke power security and food safety, Xinhua said.

Jia Qinglin, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference told the forum yesterday that the two sides should consolidate the political foundation for peaceful development of cross-strait relations.

Source: Shanghai Daily
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