China has eased restrictions on its citizens travelling to Taiwan. The new rules aim to make it easier for residents living in different parts of the mainland to travel on package tours with their family to the island.
Under the old rules, a mainland resident could only join a package tour to Taiwan in the place where he or she held a residence permit. According to a statement from China’s National Tourism Administration (NTA) however, Chinese nationals can now also join a package tour in places where their relatives hold residence permits.
In addition, the new policy also allows travel agencies to organise tours for a group of people holding different residence permits, as long as they work for the same company. This will enable Chinese corporations with multiple office locations to conduct incentives and other group business trips to Taiwan.
Xinhua reported Chou Ching-shyong, Chairman of Taiwan Visitors Association, as saying that he expected the new rules would lead to a 10% rise in cross-Strait arrivals to Taiwan.
In the first nine months of 2011, more than 1.75 million mainland Chinese visitors travelled to Taiwan, representing 40.8% of total arrivals to the country. This number has already exceeded the 1.63 million mainland Chinese cross-Strait travellers Taiwan received in the whole of 2010.
Restrictions on cross-Strait travel were lifted in July 2008. Since then, Taiwanese and Chinese airlines have been rapidly adding new cross-Strait routes to cater for a huge surge in demand from travellers on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.