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Huge group of Chinese tourists to visit Taiwan this month

TAIPEI -- A Chinese company will send some 10,000 employees to Taiwan in September on an incentive tour, Taiwanese tourism officials said yesterday.

The tourists from Pro-Health company, the largest direct sales enterprise in Beijing, are expected to generate at least NT$160 million (US$5.39 million) in revenue for Taiwan's tourism sector, according to the Tourism Bureau.

The 10,000 visitors will arrive in three groups on Sept. 13, 18 and 23, respectively, on a cruise ship that will take them to Hualien in eastern Taiwan and Keelung in the northern part of the country on a three-day tour.

In Hualien, the tourists will visit Taroko National Park, known for its lofty marble canyons, and the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation, one of Taiwan's most prominent charity groups.

When the visitors arrive in Keelung, they will have a choice of two tours, according to the travel agencies.

One tour will take the tourists to Miaokou night market in Keelung, the Gold Museum, Yehliu cape and the small mountain town of Jiufen in New Taipei City. On the other tour, they will visit Freedom Square at National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, Taipei 101 and the National Palace Museum in Taipei.

Japan and South Korea had been vying for the Pro-Health incentive tours this year, but the company picked Taiwan again, Tourism Bureau Director-General David Hsieh said at a press conference in Taipei.

The company had organized similar tours to Taiwan for some of its employees in 2009.

Pro-Health Chairman Li Dao said his company has organized 42 tours over the past 17 years to reward its employees and the trip to Taiwan in 2009 gave the highest level of satisfaction.

The tours this time will focus on exploring Taiwan's culture and traditions, Li said.

Li, who was raised in Keelung until the age of 10, said he has fond memories of the city's food, snacks and scenery.

He said his company is already planning the next incentive tour, which could start in Taichung in central Taiwan and proceed southward.

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Li Dao (李道), president of Baojian China (寶健中國), the largest direct sales firm in Beijing, speaks while on a company-sponsored tour to Taiwan. (CNA)

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