The number of Chinese independent travelers to be allowed to visit Taiwan on their own instead of as part of a tour group could be raised from the 500 to 1,000 a day, Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman -Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) said.
In a speech on Saturday on cross-strait relations after Taiwan’s Jan. 14 presidential and legislative elections, Chiang said relations would likely become more peaceful, adding that exchanges between civil organizations would increase.
In addition to easing restrictions on Chinese investment in Taiwan, Chiang said the Free Independent Traveler (FIT) program would also be expanded, with residents from more Chinese cities being allowed to join the program and the daily entry ceiling on independent Chinese travelers increasing to 1,000.
Under the FIT program, which was launched in June last year, up to 500 Chinese independent travelers from three cities — Beijing, Shanghai and Xiamen — are allowed to enter Taiwan each day for tourism.
“Eight mainland Chinese cities — Tianjin, Nanjing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing and Jinan — could be added to the list,” Chiang said.
However, negotiations on the proposed FIT expansion had not yet been concluded, he added.
“The exact numbers of cities and the daily number of individual Chinese visitors requires further discussion,” Chiang said.
Tourism Bureau Deputy -Director-General David Hsieh (謝勤益) said on Thursday that representatives from Taiwan and China tentatively agreed during recent talks in Hong Kong to raise the number of FIT-cities to 11, but he did not disclose which cities.
A tourism bureau official said that raising the daily ceiling of the FIT program was not an urgent issue because from June 28 last year to Tuesday last week an average of just 184 independent Chinese tourists visited Taiwan per day.
“There is still a large gap between actual numbers and the current daily limit,” the official said.