The number of Chinese tourists visiting Kinmen is expected to increase with the introduction, on a trial basis, of a night ferry service between Kinmen and Xiamen, in China’s Fujian Province. The maiden voyage is scheduled for June 17.
Prior to the decision to launch direct flights and postal service operations as well as direct trade between Taiwan and China in 2008, the government in 2001 permitted limited postal, transportation and trade links between Xiamen, Mawei and Quanzhou located in China’s Fujian Province and Kinmen and Matsu, which also became known as the “small three links.”
Hsu Kuo-ching (許國慶), a section chief at the Maritime and Port Bureau, said there would be three ferry services to Fujian Province from Kinmen, running between Kinmen’s Shueitou Harbor (水頭) and Xiamen’s Dongdu and between Shueitou and Wutong and Shijing Harbor in Quanzhou.
While the growth of passenger numbers on the three routes has slowed down because of an increase in direct cross-strait flights, Hsu said that the ferry service was used by 1.47 million people last year.
Currently, the ferry service runs daily from 8am with the last ferry leaving Kinmen at 5pm, while the local government requested that the service be extended to 7pm.
“We hope the service will attract more Chinese who want to spend a day visiting and shopping in Kinmen,” Hsu said. “In future, we might consider extending the service to 9pm, so that they can take their time finishing dinner and catch the last ferry back to Xiamen.”
The trial operation will begin at 7pm on June 17 on the Shueitou-Dongdu route.
Meanwhile, Hsu said Kinmen County Government had included the night ferry service as part of its China tourism campaign, adding that the same service could become available on the Shueitou-Wutong route if Wutong Harbor were made ready for a night ferry service.
The Civil Aeronautics Administration said the last flight from Kinmen to Taiwan leaves at 7:30pm and if night ferry passenger numbers increase airlines could be asked about the possibility of delaying the last flight until a later time.