Traveling to Taiwan has emerged as a new trend among young Chinese because of the popularity of Taiwan’s pop culture, including TV dramas, pop music and variety shows.
Guo Yi (郭毅), a graduate student at Beijing Normal University, said he wants to do an internship in Taiwan to experience Taiwanese culture. Guo enjoys watching Taiwanese TV dramas and also spoke enthusiastically about Life of Pi, a film made by Taiwanese director Ang Lee (李安).
Popular Taiwanese variety-comedy show Kang Xi Lai Le (康熙來了) is also a must-watch for many young Chinese.
Yang Hang, who works in Beijing, said he watches Taiwanese variety shows on the Internet and almost never misses an episode of his favorites.
The trend toward traveling to Taiwan has gained momentum with the introduction of a new measure that gives more Chinese convenient access to the country.
As of September, Chinese nationals have been allowed to apply for travel permits to Taiwan in six cities where they do not have their household registration.
That means people who work or go to college in Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Chongqing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, but whose households are not registered in those cities, can now apply for travel documents, including a pass to Taiwan, without having to return to their hometowns to get the documentation.
“Many of my employees have long wanted to visit Taiwan. However, some of them do not have their household registration in Beijing and have to get documents back in their hometowns. So our planned trip to Taiwan has never worked out,” said Lee Hsu-heng, a Taiwan-born interior designer who founded Golucci Design in Beijing.
With the launch of the new travel measure, Lee said he plans to take his staff to Taiwan and “experience the beauty of Taiwanese culture.”
Many travel agencies in China are also offering special packages to spend New Year’s Eve in Taiwan. A countdown concert outside Taipei City Hall and the fireworks display on the Taipei 101 skyscraper were some of the top recommendations for independent travelers who go on such tours, the agencies said.
Greater Kaohsiung is another choice being promoted for the holiday, according to several travel agency Web sites in China.
A woman surnamed Chen (陳), who works in Beijing, said she had planned to travel to Taiwan at the end of the year, but found tours were fully booked in the wake of the new travel measure being introduced.
Some of the most popular places for Chinese to travel to are Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, Phuket and Bali, according to the head office of China International Travel Service, China’s largest travel group.