Four more Chinese cities have been included in the free independent travelers (FIT) program, the Tourism Bureau said, following a meeting attended by tourism officials from Taiwan and China at the annual Cross-Strait Tourism Round-Table Conference in Greater Kaohsiung on Wednesday.
Currently, only Chinese from Beijing, Shanghai, Xiamen, Tianjin, Chongqing, Nanjing, Guangzhou, Hangzhou and Chengdu are allowed to visit Taiwan as FITs. Residents of other cities in China can only come with tour groups.
Tourism Bureau director general David Hsieh (謝謂君) said that both sides have agreed to add four more Chinese cities in the FIT program: Jinan, Xian, Fuzhou and Shenzhen.
“We [Taiwan and China] have also reached consensus that the Chinese tourists from these four cities can start coming on Aug. 28,” Hsieh said.
Meanwhile, both Taiwan and China have decided to expand cross-strait tourism exchanges through the “small three links,” through which Chinese tourists are allowed to visit the nation’s outlying islands of Kinmen, Matsu and Penghu.
Apart from residents of nine cities in China’s Fujian Province, Hsieh said residents of 11 other cities in Zhejiang, Guangdong and Jiangxi provinces are allowed to travel to the three outlying islands. The new policy will also take effect on Aug. 28.
Hsieh said that an average of 157 Chinese FITs visited Taiwan per day when the nation began implementing the Chinese FIT program last year. The number quickly climbed to average 500 daily between January and June this year. Shao Qiwei (邵琪偉), chairman of China’s National Tourism Administration, said his agency estimated that 13 million people would travel between Taiwan and China by 2016 and the number of Chinese tourists traveling to Taiwan could potentially top 7 million.