Following a recent lifting of travel bans, Chinese tourists from Fujian could start arriving in Kinmen before next month's legislative elections, according to Kinmen County Legislator Wu Cheng-tien (吳成典) of the New Party.
"People are already beginning to apply to tour Kinmen, and the travel industry has already worked out a consensus for the pricing and procedures," Wu told the Taipei Times yesterday, saying that he expected tourists to start arriving very soon.
While Taiwan had opened its doors to Chinese tourists wishing to visit Kinmen and Matsu when the "small three links" were implemented in January 2001, Bei-jing did not give its approval until late September, when Fujian Province Deputy Governor Wang Mei-xiang (王美香) announced that the government was ready to lift its travel ban.
While Chinese tourism to Kinmen and Matsu had been allowed for people traveling with tour groups, the new policies allow for individual tourists to visit the two islands on their own.
According to Wu, one travel package on offer will be a three days/two night deal that would cost between NT$3,000 and NT$4,700.
Wu said domestic tourists visiting Kinmen on similar packages usually paid between NT$3,000 and NT$4,000, while packages for tourists from Hong Kong cost around NT$4,700.
"I think that in the beginning, we should start with a few tourists and work our way up, since we are just getting to know the process as well as each other," Wu said.
He stressed the importance of maintaining travel service quality despite increased competition.
The new policies have been hailed as a possible catalyst for the economic development of the two islands.
Wu said there would be little impact on Kinmen's economic development initially, but that increased demand in the future could attract increased investment to the island.
"As demand increases, investors might start thinking of building more hotels to accommodate tourists," Wu said.
The details for the travel package were hammered out by representatives from the travel industry, public-security officials, the Mainland Affairs Council and China's Taiwan Affairs Office.
Due to security considerations, the number of tourists from Fujian will be capped at 600 for Kinmen and 80 for Matsu, officials said. Chinese citizens frequently travel to Kinmen and Matsu on business via the "small three links" system.