Monday, December 15, 2008

Chinese tourist arrivals expected to double with daily charters

Taipei The number of Chinese tourist arrivals to Taiwan is likely to double to 600 per day following Monday's opening of direct daily charter flight services between the two sides, according to the results of research by the Ministry of Transportation and Communication (MOTC).
As more direct routes will be adopted for the daily cross-Taiwan Strait charter flights from Dec. 15, passengers will be able to save on both cost and travel time from that day, the MOTC said.

The daily charter services will connect Taiwan to 21 Chinese destinations scattered across China, including Chengdu, Chongqing, Hangzhou, Dalian, Shenzhen, Tianjin, Kunming, Qingdao, Haikou and Shenyang.

According to tour operators, the reduced travel time will be the greatest advantage in the new measures.

From Monday, a trip on the new Taipei-Shanghai route will take only 90 minutes -- one hour less than the present route that has to go through the Hong Kong flight information zone, tour operators said. This will also help reduce the time of a flight between Taipei and Beijing to two hours and 50 minutes from the present three hours and 35 minutes.

At the same time, the number of the two-way charter flights per week will rise from 36 to 108, bureau officials said. Currently, some 90 percent of the passengers are Taiwanese businessmen, so seats will need to be added to meet tourism demand between the two sides, they noted.

The increased flights and destinations will also help attract a larger number of Chinese tourists, they contended.

The MOTC Tourism Bureau forecast that an average of 600 Chinese tourists will come to Taiwan for sightseeing per day aboard the direct flights, double the current daily number of 300.

Since the direct cross-strait charter flights on weekends have been implemented from mid-July, a total of 32,973 tourists from China had visited Taiwan as of early November, an average of some 300 per day, according to bureau statistics.

Some 55 percent of the total, or 18,184 people, flew into Taiwan aboard weekend charter flights from five Chinese cities -- Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing, Guangzhou and Xiamen -- the tallies indicate.

Taiwan and China inked two landmark accords in June in Beijing to allow Chinese tourists from 13 provinces and cities to visit Taiwan and to establish the direct weekend charter flights.

The two sides expanded the scope of the two pacts during talks in Taipei in November, allowing Chinese residents from more cities and provinces to make pleasure trips to Taiwan and expanding the weekend charter flights to a daily service.

12/14/2008 (CNA)

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