Cross-strait tourism expected to stabilize in three months: MAC

The Cabinet-level Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said Sunday that tourism exchanges between Taiwan and China are expected to stabilize within three months, when the number of Chinese tourist arrivals is expected to reach the originally-set target of 3,000 per day.
Taiwan officially opened its doors more widely to Chinese tourists July 18, with a total of 1,182 tourists from Beijing, Tienjin, Shandong, Shanghai, Nanjing, Xiamen and Hong Kong flying into Taiwan on cross-Taiwan Strait weekend charter flights, far fewer than originally expected.
The Beijing authorities have reportedly deliberately lowered the number of Chinese tourist arrivals through strict screening procedures of potential travelers.
But MAC spokesman Liu Te-shun said such speculation was unnecessary because the agreement to expand the number of Chinese visiting the island was only signed in mid-June.
He contended it takes time for relevant government agencies on both sides of the Taiwan Strait to approve visits to Taiwan by Chinese tourists and acknowledged that Beijing is strictly screening applicants before allowing them to make the trip.
For his part, MAC Vice Chairman Fu Tung-cheng, who took part in cross-strait negotiations held in Beijing, explained that the originally-set target of 3,000 tourist arrivals a day was an average ceiling.
He attributed the lower Chinese tourist arrivals in the initial stages mainly to higher prices and complex application procedures as well as a lack of intensive publicity.
Cross-strait relations have been thawing since the May 20 inauguration of President Ma Ying-jeou.
Since Ma was sworn in, the two sides reached historical agreements June 13 in Beijing to launch nonstop charter flights across the strait on weekends and expand the number of Chinese tourists visiting Taiwan to 3,000 a day, up from the previous level of 1,000 per day, a number that was restricted to Chinese tourists arriving from a third country or area.