Taiwan and China will discuss the expansion of a program that allows Chinese citizens to visit Taiwan independently, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said yesterday.
Discussions between the Taiwan Strait Tourism Association and China’s Association for Tourism Exchange Across the Taiwan Straits are scheduled to take place in Beijing today, with the Free Independent Traveler (FIT) program as well as travel safety expected to top the agenda.
At a news conference in -Beijing, Taiwan Affairs Office spokesperson Yang Yi praised the recent developments of Chinese travel to Taiwan, whether through organized tour groups or through independent travel, and said the Chinese authorities had a favorable attitude toward expanding the program for independent Chinese travelers.
Taiwan’s tourism sector had hoped that introduction of the independent tourist program, which was launched in late June and currently allows up to 500 visitors to enter Taiwan per day, would bring the sector a new and lucrative -revenue stream.
However, so far only residents of Beijing, Shanghai and Xiamen have been allowed to travel to Taiwan independently.
One topic of discussion at today’s meeting is expected to be how to expand the scope of the FIT plan, which has been disappointing to date.
According to figures from Taiwan’s National Immigration Agency, an average of 110 Chinese nationals every day have visited Taiwan as independent travelers since the program began, which is far below the maximum daily quota.
However, including tour groups, as of Friday, nearly 868,000 Chinese tourists have visited Taiwan this year, which is similar to last year’s total, Yang said.
He said he believed visitor numbers could climb higher later this month and next month, a peak time for Chinese tourists visiting Taiwan.