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November 13, 2010

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Taiwan opens to individual travelers

TAIWAN is expected to open its doors to individual business travelers from Shanghai and Beijing for the first time early next year, according to the island's council for economic planning and development.

While this is the first time the island has opened up to individual tourism from the Chinese mainland, Shanghai travel agencies said they are still waiting to receive formal notice from the mainland tourism authorities.

"We believe there will be conditions set on individual tourists, for example, the tourists must have business purpose in Taiwan," said Yu Weihua, general manager of Shanghai China International Travel Service.

Christina Y. Liu, director of the Taiwan council, said that the new policy will help the development of the retail market as well by raising the salaries of people in the island, and even expanding the real estate market.

Meanwhile, mainland travel agencies were also worried that once a large numbers of individual tourists rush to Taiwan, the island's tourist infrastructure will be stretched even more than at present.

Shanghai travel agency officials said they have found that in the peak season, the huge number of tour groups in Taiwan puts tourist facilities under pressure.

"Therefore, I think it would be wise to open up individual tourism market gradually," Yu said.

Taiwan's travel market was opened to the Chinese mainland in July 2008, but only group tourists were accepted.

From last year, the mainland and Taiwan tourism authorities began talking about opening up individual tourism, according to media reports.


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