Sun, Sep 07, 2008 - Page 3 News List

County official says Beijing to blame for low tourist numbers

GET IN LINEThe second most populated province in China has only a single agency handling tourism to Taiwan, a Taipei County tourism bureau official said


A Taipei County official yesterday called on Chinese authorities to relax regulations that have limited the number of Chinese visiting Taiwan for tourism.

Chin Huei-chu (秦慧珠), director of the Taipei County Tourism Promotion Bureau, made the call in Xiamen, Fujian Province, where she is attending a travel fair.

A county government statement quoted Chin as saying strict Chinese regulations were responsible for the low number of Chinese who had visited Taiwan since the two sides launched cross-strait weekend charter flights in July.

Under the agreement, up to 3,000 Chinese could enter Taiwan per day, but less than 300 have come per day on average.

Chin said she saw the problems first-hand during her visit to Shandong last month to attend an international travel fair. Shandong is China’s second-largest province in terms of population, with 96 million people, and enjoys the second-largest GDP behind Guangdong.

Yet only one travel agency in the province was authorized to offer tours to Taiwan and the agency is limited to three tour guides for Taiwan trips, Chin said.

This means people must wait for a spot on one of the agency’s tours to Taiwan, she said.

Chin said she would ask the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) to suggest in talks with China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) that Beijing authorize more local travel agencies to offer tours to Taiwan.

The Xiamen travel fair, organized by the Chinese National Tourism Administration and the Fujian provincial government, has attracted representatives from government tourism agencies and private tour companies from around China, as well as from countries in Southeast Asia, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the US.

Taipei County has a booth at the fair.

Meanwhile, Taiwanese and Chinese mail operators are calling for direct mail delivery across the Taiwan Strait.

“It takes five days to send an ordinary piece of mail from Taipei to Beijing because the mail has to go through Japan or Kong Kong,” Chunghwa Post vice president Huang Shu-chien (黃書健) said.

“The opening of direct mail delivery would halve the [delivery] time and cost,” he said.

Wang Yuci (王渝次), deputy head of China’s postal authority, also urged both sides to open direct mail delivery.

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