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Cross-strait tourism forecast continue growing after expansion agreement

The number of tourists from China visiting Taiwan on unguided itineraries is expected to rise markedly in the latter half of this year, following the conclusion of negotiations aiming to expanded daily quotas on free and individual travel between tourism governing bodies on both sides of the strait.

Reports indicate that negotiations between the Taiwan Strait Tourism Association (台旅會) and China's Association for Tourism Exchange Across the Taiwan Straits (海旅會) have resulted in the extension of free and individual travel packages to an additional 10 cities in mainland China, five short of the 15 requested by tourism governing body counterparts in Taiwan.

The preliminary list of 10 cities includes Harbin, Dalian, Yantai, Guiyang, Wuxi, Nanchang, Quanzhou, and Zhongshan. According to reports, the list of cities is undergoing a round of administrative processes, with the final list of 10 cities set to be announced later this month.

Incidentally, a source close to the Chinese tourism governing body stated that Guangdong province's Dongguan had been removed from the list of 10 cities due to a scathing report that exposed the local sex industry. As a result, marred by ill-repute, all cities in Guangdong province were excluded from this year's round of cross-strait tourism talks.

Ministry of Transportation and Communication officials, however, stated that since the approval of free and individual travel for Chinese visitors, tourists from Beijing and Shanghai still led in numbers, accounting for 45 percent of cross-strait traffic.

Currently, the number of Chinese visitors to Taiwan is limited to no more than 5,000 persons on guided tours, and no more than 4,000 for unguided itineraries. During the first five months of this year, Chinese visitors on guided tours were tallied at 1.05 million, with visitors on unguided tours totaling at 470,000.

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