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Deal to boost mainland tourism to Taiwan

By  Tan Zongyang and Hu Meidong  (China Daily)

08:46, April 12, 2012

Residents of 10 more cities will be able to travel individually to island

The number of mainland tourists to Taiwan is expected to increase significantly as residents of 10 more cities on the mainland will be allowed to travel to the island individually, a senior official said on Wednesday in Beijing.

"We believe that after making adequate preparations, the number of Taiwan-bound individual tourists from 10 more mainland cities will see a large increase," Fan Liqing, spokeswoman of the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, said at a news conference.

According to a deal reached between organizations from both sides of the Straits, residents of Tianjin, Chongqing, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Guangzhou and Chengdu will be allowed to visit Taiwan individually starting on April 28, Fan said.

Fan also said the residents of Jinan, Xi'an, Fuzhou and Shenzhen will be permitted to visit Taiwan individually before the end of the year, without disclosing the exact date. She added that tourism authorities in those cities are running against time to carefully organize the trial operation.

Mainland tourists were first allowed to visit Taiwan as individuals in June last year. According to Fan, the pilot program, which started in Beijing, Shanghai and Xiamen, had attracted more than 57,000 tourists from the mainland to Taiwan by the end of March.

Taiwan authorities dropped an overall ban on mainland residents traveling to the island in July 2008. Since then, the island has become a popular destination for mainland tourists - first in the form of group tours, then as individuals.

The mainland is currently a major source of tourism to Taiwan. In 2011, more than 1.78 million mainland residents visited the island, a year-on-year increase of 9.4 percent. Mainland tourists made up nearly one-third of the 6.09 million visitors Taiwan received last year, according to its tourism department.

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