Taiwan and China have reached an agreement to add another 13 Chinese cities to the free independent traveler (FIT) program for Chinese tourists, the Tourism Bureau said yesterday.
Currently, the program only applies to Chinese traveling from Beijing, Shanghai, Xiamen, Tianjin, Chongqing, Nanjin, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Chengdu, Jinan, Xian, Fuzhou and Shenzhen.
The bureau said that under the new agreement, Chinese FITs could come to Taiwan by way of 13 additional cities: Shenyang, Zhengzhou, Wuhan, Suzhou, Ningbo, Qingdao, Shijiazhuang, Changchun, Hefei, Changsha, Nanning, Kunming and Quanzhou.
According to the bureau, the list was determined after evaluating the economic development, population and availability of cross-strait flight service in each candidate city. Both sides also made sure to consider cites across a wide range of regions, the bureau said.
The bureau added that the expansion of the program would be executed in two stages. The first stage is to be implemented on June 28 and will allow registered residents of Shenyang, Zhengzhou, Wuhan, Suzhou, Ningbo and Qingdao to travel to Taiwan as FITs.
Chinese tourists from the other newly added cities have to wait until Aug. 28 to visit Taiwan under the program.
When the program was launched in June 2011, the number of FITs was capped at 500 per day.
That limit was raised to 1,000 per day last year after 10 more cities were added to the list and was further increased to 2,000 in April this year.
Bureau statistics showed that as of last month, approximately 387,000 Chinese have visited Taiwan as FITs since the program’s inception, with 190,000 visitors arriving last year, representing an average of 522 arrivals per day.
Between January and last month, the average number of FITs has topped 1,100 a day, the bureau said.