TAIPEI, Taiwan - Chinese authorities said Sunday that it plans to further expand tourism to Taiwan with several new measures, including approving a second Taiwanese office for tourism in Shanghai.
China's National Tourism Administration has allowed the Taiwan Strait Tourism Association to open an office in Shanghai to promote tourism and handle cross-strait tourism affairs, Chinese officials said at the fourth Cross-Taiwan Strait Forum held in Xiamen, Fujian Province.
Currently the Taipei-based association has a branch in Beijing.
Moreover, the Chinese tourism authorities said they would work to raise the number of visits to Taiwan to 1.8 million in 2012. In 2011 there were 1,319,000 visits by Chinese tourists, according to the Council of Mainland Affairs.
The Chinese government will also negotiate with Taiwan on expansion of the independent Chinese traveler program to allow travelers from 20 other cities in the provinces of Zhejiang, Jiangxi and Guangdong, besides the current nine Fujian cities, to visit the three outlying islands -- Kinmen, Penghu, and Matsu without joining tour groups.
The three offshore islands were first opened to independent Chinese travelers on July 29, 2011 while the Taiwan proper were open to them a month earlier.
The Free Independent Traveler (FIT) program opened to great expectations within the local tourism industry, though the results have been somewhat disappointing, according to reports.
Just over 56,000 Chinese have traveled to Taiwan under the program as of March 26