Kinmen County planning sea tours amid travel ban

09/18/2020 10:05 PM
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CNA photo Sept. 18, 2020
CNA photo Sept. 18, 2020

Kinmen, Sept. 18 (CNA) The government of outlying Kinmen County said on Thursday that it could soon launch a program featuring boat trips in waters between it and Xiamen in southeastern China amid the absence of bilateral travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Highlights of the program will include trips along the coastlines of the Kinmen islands and introducing tourists to colorful marine life and scenery, the county's Tourism Department said.

The tours will involve cooperation among local travel agents, ferry operators, duty-free merchandise providers and immigration officials in an effort to develop the trips to make up to some extent for their financial losses amid the halt of the regular three mini-links travel, the department said.

The three mini-links mainly refer to the ferry services between Taiwan's Kinmen and China's Xiamen and Quanzhou, and between Taiwan's Matsu and China's Fuzhou.

A major drive for the local economies, the policy, which started in 2001, recorded nearly 2 million passengers last year, but had been suspended since Feb. 10 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While details remained undisclosed as the program awaits final approval from the central government, Kinmen County officials said the "blue highway" will provide a beautiful travel experience.

The county government said the travel packages could be similar to the island-hopping tours that have been running between Taiwan proper and its outlying islands since July as the country has became the first in the world to restart cruise services since the start of COVID-19.

The island-hopping campaign is lucrative, as a total of eight such trips between July 29 and Sept. 15 brought 10,000 tourists, with average consumption per person reaching NT$3,000 (US$102), officials said.

(By Huang Hui-min and Lee Hsin-Yin)

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