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Individual travel program to be expanded soon: official

2012/07/19 20:44:54

Taipei, July 19 (CNA) A travel program that allows visits to Taiwan by individual Chinese tourists could be extended to residents of four other cities in China by the end of August, the Tourism Bureau said Thursday.

Taiwan and China are in the final stages of the arrangement, which would allow residents of Jinan, Xian, Fuzhou and Shenzhen to make individual visits to Taiwan instead of in tour groups or accompanied by a tour guide.

The free independent traveler program, which was launched in China last June, is currently limited to residents of Beijing, Shanghai, Xiamen, Tianjin, Chongqing, Nanjing, Guangzhou, Hangzhou and Chengdu.

Although the program started off slow, attracting only about 30,000 Chinese tourists by the end of 2011, it has picked up this year, with more than 80,000 visitors in the first five months, according to Tourism Bureau statistics.

"We will keep pushing for both lower costs and easier processing of travel documents," said Chang Shi-chung, the bureau's deputy director general.

Chang said the bureau is also planning to launch more short-term and in-depth itineraries to provide a wider range of choices for independent Chinese tourists.

The goal is to better manage the flow of tourists and thus increasing the quality of tours offered to Chinese travelers, he said.

There have been a growing number of complaints by Chinese visitors about tight schedules and overcrowded tourist spots, according to Chang.

(By Lee Hsin-Yin)