New charter shipping links between Hualien City and Okinawa should boost tourism in the two areas, Hualien city officials said yesterday.
The officials said they would organize a group to embark on a chartered inaugural trip to the Okinawan city of Yonaguni-cho next Friday.
In 1982, Hualien established sister-city relations with Yonaguni-cho, a town of less than 1,700 inhabitants that encompasses the island of Yonaguni, Japan’s westernmost landmass, located in Okinawa Prefecture at the southern extreme of the Ryukyu Archipelago.
The officials said Hualien had been promoting closer exchanges with Yonaguni-cho, especially since the two sides established charter air links on July 4.
“The distance between the two places is very short and the opening of charter shipping will help promote tourism,” Tsai said.
Before the opening of the charter air links, Yonaguni residents wishing to travel to Taiwan had little choice but to fly through the prefectural capital of Naha on Okinawa Island, some 500km away.
Yonaguni, a small island of mostly fishermen and their families, lies only 110km from Taiwan’s northeastern coast.
The travel time by ship is about two-and-a-half hours.