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More than 200,000 mainland tourists to visit for Moon Festival

The China Post news staff--Taiwan is emerging as one of the most attractive tourist destinations for the mainland Chinese, especially during the upcoming Mid-Autumn Festival, according to travel agencies.

Nanhu Travel Network, a travel agency based in Guangzhou of Guangdong province, has witnessed a rapid increase in the number of Taiwan-bound tourist groups, as an increasing number of people are eager to take part in the barbecue festivities that take place in Taiwan during the Mid-Autumn Festival.

A manager of Nanhu Travel said that since the governments on both sides of the Taiwan Strait have allowed people to travel individually to Taiwan, many Chinese tourists have selected Taiwan as one of the places they would like to visit the most. Accordingly, Nanhu Travel has seen great success in organizing Taiwan-bound tourist groups for the Mid-Autumn Festival, which falls on Sept. 30 this year, by incorporating barbecue activities into their itinerary.

For instance, the manager said, Chinese tourists are given the chance to experience barbecue activities in Taipei, enjoy a formal dinner near Sun Moon Lake or release sky lanterns in Pingxi District of New Taipei City, depending on their choice.

The overall cost for Taiwan-bound trips for the upcoming holiday has risen by 5 percent as a result of high demand, according to the manager.

In the first seven months of the year, the number of tourists from mainland China has seen a sharp increase of over 55 percent compared to the same period last year.

Officials of the National Immigration Agency said that the annual number of tourist arrivals from mainland China recorded for the upcoming holiday season, which starts from China's National Day on Oct. 1, has averaged at around 160,000 over the past few years. The number, the officials estimated, is likely to soar above the 200,000 mark.

The total number of tourist arrivals from mainland China came to 1.78 million, sharply up from only 300,000 in 2008. The figure is expected to hit a high of 2.3 million this year, according to the Tourism Bureau.

Statistics show that in the first half of the year, Taiwan witnessed an increase of 77,600 job opportunities — half of which were created by tourist hotels and restaurants, the Tourism Bureau noted.

There are now at least 40 tourist hotels under construction around the island, with total investment estimated at NT$74 billion, the bureau added.

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