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Express ferry boosts cross-Strait travel


08:19, August 17, 2012

FUZHOU, Aug. 16 (Xinhua) -- Cross-Strait sea trips between Fujian province and Taiwan more than tripled in the first seven months of 2012, mainly due to the operation of a new express passenger liner, local transportation officials said Thursday.

More than 90,000 people traveled by sea between Fujian and the main island of Taiwan from January to July this year. More than 16,800 made trips in the peak season of July, marking a rise of 446 percent year on year, statistics from the Fujian transportation bureau showed.

Officials attributed the surge in cross-Strait travel to the operation of Haixia, a high-speed passenger ferry linking the city of Taichung in Taiwan and Pingtan county in Fujian since November last year. On average, more than 10,000 people have traveled on the Haixia every month since April, statistics show. The operator increased the ferry service to four times a week from June to August.

Fujian is the closest point on the Chinese mainland to Taiwan. However, the first regular direct sea route after 1949 was not launched until August 2009, linking the province's Xiamen Port and Taiwan's Taichung Port and Keelung Port.

Cross-Strait travel has surged in the past few years amid warming relations between the mainland and Taiwan. Fujian tourism authorities estimated that more than 280,000 mainland tourists would visit Taiwan via Fujian's sea and air ports in 2012.

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