Taiwan, China to discuss new air routes: SEF chief

Taipei, April 9 (CNA) Taiwan and China will discuss plans to increase the current number of charter flights and open new routes to accommodate the increased tourism exchanges between the two sides, Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Chiang Pin-kung said Thursday.
Officials of the SEF and its Chinese counterpart, Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) , will address the two issues in their upcoming third round of talks scheduled for later this month or early May in China. The SEF and ARATS are quasi-official intermediary bodies that handle exchanges between the two sides.
Chiang made the remarks at a ceremony that he co-chaired with Shandong Tourism Bureau Director Yu Chong to mark the start of "2009 Taiwan-Shandong Tourism Exchange Year." Under the exchange plan, 23,000 people from Shandong Province in northern China will visit Taiwan in the coming year, while 10,000 Taiwanese tourists will travel to Shandong, Yu said.
In May, a group of more than 400 Shandong tourists will visit Taiwan via the mini links -- direct ferry services between Xiamen Port in China's Fujian Province and the Taiwan-held Kinmen Island, he said. The group of Shandong tourists will travel to Xiamen by train, he added.
In an effort to further promote tourism exchanges between Taiwan and Shandong Province, representatives from the Taipei-based Travel Quality Assurance Association, along with 10 city and county tourism associations and six tour agencies, signed a cooperation accord with Shandong tourism representatives from 10 cities and six travel agencies in Shandong.
(By Flor Wang)