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Mainland tour agencies expect much of Taiwan travel

    BEIJING, May 23 (Xinhuanet) -- Despite the lack of a formal response from the Taiwan authority on the mainland's removal of a travel ban Friday, many mainland travel agencies are eager for business opportunities to come.

    Hu Shuwei, marketing director of the CTS (Hong Kong) International Travel Agency, has received hundreds of telephone calls from consumers during the past three days requesting information about the Taiwan tour.

    "These eager citizens called in to ask for detailed itinerary, prices or a timetable on when we will start this special business," Hu said.

    Zhou Feng, a 62-year-old native in Beijing, called visiting Taiwan "his lifelong dream." He urged Hu to see that the scenic spots of Sun Moon Lake and Ali Mountain are included in the futureitinerary.

    Ms. Yang, a 39-year-old fan of Taiwanese pop singer Teresa Teng,whose songs inspired the young Chinese to bravely express their love in late 1980s, wished to pay homage to Teng's tomb in JunyuanGarden in Jinshan Village of Taipei County.

    Facing with the travel passion of residents, many mainland touragencies have started to make preparations, including travel packages ranging from five to 10 days.

    In Guangdong Province, some agencies already began booking services as the Taiwan authority imposed a ceiling of accepting only 1,000 mainland travelers per day.

    Although Taiwan is only about 150 kilometers away from the mainland, travelers in Beijing have to stop over in Hong Kong first before flying to Taipei and spend at least 6,000 yuan (725 US dollars) for a round-trip ticket.

    Analysts say after Taiwan is formally opened to mainland tourists, the cross-Straits passenger traffic may skyrocket and facilitate the realization of direct flights between Taiwan and the mainland.

    To attract travelers as many as possible, tour agencies in Xiamen, a coastal city of Fujian Province that sees Taiwan across the sea, actively pitched a boat tour from Xiamen to the Jinmen Islands, which they say costs less than flight.

    In Shanghai, thirty local travel agencies have been invited by a Taiwan tourism foundation for a week-long market survey tour in Taiwan scheduled in June.

    Some analysts from Taiwan say that mainland travelers may create a daily tourism market worth 10 billion yuan (1.21 billion US dollars) for Taiwan, if everyone of them spends 1,000 yuan a day.

    The China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) Friday announced three principles on opening tourism for mainland residents to Taiwan, saying that mainland travel operators would closely coordinate with their counterparts in Taiwan and control travelers' flow by taking into consideration Taiwan's accommodation capability and other conditions.

    According to CNTA statistics, about 30,000 mainland residents visited Taiwan for various exchange programs in 2004, up 25 percent from the previous year.

    The number of Taiwanese visitors to the mainland reached 3.68 million last year for family reunion, tourism, business, academic study and other purposes, an increase of 35 percent year on year.

    The mainland has received 33.87 million travelers from Taiwan since 1987, when the two sides resumed exchanges after a 38-year-old standoff, representing an annual average increase of 17 percent over the past 17 years.

Liyizhong /cfie/common/content/2726451124114
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