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Tourism chief heads for China for talks on upgrading service

Tourism chief heads for China for talks on upgrading service

Taipei, July 17 (CNA) Tourism Bureau Director-General Janice Lai left for Beijing Friday for meetings with Chinese officials to discuss problems arising from the opening of Taiwan to Chinese tourists and how to upgrade the quality of cross-Taiwan Strait travel.
Traveling at the head of a delegation of tourism officials and travel agency executives, Lai said prior to her departure that she will call at major Chinese agencies in charge of Taiwan affairs and cross-strait travel services during her visit.
Taiwan relaxed restrictions on Chinese tourist visits July 4, 2008. According to Tourism Bureau statistics, Chinese citizens have since made 660,000 visits to Taiwan, including 373,000 sightseeing trips.
The number of visits by Chinese tourists during the first year of the opening represented an average of 1,022 people per day, far lower than the daily maximum quota of 3,000 set by Taiwan.
Asked whether the daily quota will be cut or further expanded, Lai said the number is not a core concern at the moment.
To the best of her understanding, Lai said, Chinese authorities and tour operators are most concerned with Taiwan's maximum capacity to accommodate Chinese tourists and whether the current number of cross-strait flights are enough to meet market demand.
Lai headed a group of Taiwanese travel agency executives on a visit to China for the first time last October in her capacity as chairwoman of the Taiwan Strait Tourism Association (TSTA).
During that visit, she met mainly with Chinese travel agents in an effort to attract more Chinese tourists to Taiwan.
This time around, she will make her first formal visit to the TSTA's Chinese counterpart -- the Cross-Strait Tourism Association (CSTA).
Both the TSTA and the CSTA are quasi-official organizations founded by their respective governments to deal with bilateral travel problems in the absence of official ties.
During her current visit, Lai said, she will meet with CSTA President Shao Qiwei, who concurrently serves as director of China's National Tourism Administration, to exchange views on feasible measures to promote steady qualitative and quantitative growth in cross-strait travel.
On travel quality, Lai said her delegation will work with Chinese tourism administrators and tour operators on designing better travel packages to avoid overcrowding at major Taiwanese tourist spots, an issue that has been at the center of complaints by both local travelers and Chinese visitors.
(By Sofia Wu)