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Wednesday, January 27, 2016, 17:58

Mainlanders touring Taiwan in record numbers

By Xinhua

Mainlanders touring Taiwan in record numbers
In this photo taken on April 13, 2015, tourists and local residents eat and browse for food at the Raohe night market in Taipei. (AFP PHOTO / Sam Yeh)

BEIJING -- The number of mainland tourists visiting Taiwan is estimated to hit 3.4 million, a record high, in 2015, the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office said on Wednesday.

Spokesperson Ma Xiaoguang told a press conference that the mainland remains the biggest contributor of tourists to Taiwan.

About 9.86 million people made cross-Strait trips in total, an expansion of 4.7 percent from the year before. Taiwan residents made 5.5 million visits to the mainland while mainland residents made about 4.36 million visits to the island, an increase of 2.47 percent and 7.73 percent respectively from the previous year, he said.

The growth was largely attributable to the mainland's removal of entry permit requirements for Taiwan residents and an increase in cross-Strait passenger flights to 890 per week.

He also denied China is setting a cap on the number of tourists that can visit Taiwan, instead pointing to market behavior as the reason for a recent change.

Ma said that the quota for tourists was made by Taiwan and is a unilateral approach. Taiwan-bound tourists from the mainland vary depending on travel agencies and tourists.

Ma said he hoped Taiwan's inbound tourism can be developed and rights of mainland tourists safeguarded.

He also denied China is setting a cap on the number of tourists that can visit Taiwan, instead pointing to market behavior as the reason for a recent change.

Ma said that the quota for tourists was made by Taiwan and is a unilateral approach. Taiwan-bound tourists from the mainland vary depending on travel agencies and tourists.

Ma said he hoped Taiwan's inbound tourism can be developed and rights of mainland tourists safeguarded.

In terms of the flight transfer programs, Ma said the mainland's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) and Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) are coordinating on the issue and will implement it when it is prepared.

Flight transfers through Taiwan's Taoyuan International Airport will be the first limited flights to or from the cities of Nanchang, Kunming and Chongqing. The three cities are popular outbound tourist departure cities in central and western China.

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