Sunday, February 14, 2010

10,000 Chinese visit Taiwan on Lunar New Year's Day

TAIPEI — More than 10,000 Chinese tourists are expected to visit Taiwan on the first day of the Lunar New Year Sunday to set a new daily record, a report said, amid improving ties between the two sides.

The influx of visitors helped double the island's hotel occupancy rates to more than 80 percent from last year for the Lunar New Year holidays, the United Daily News said.

In all, about 40,000 Chinese have applied to travel to the island during the nine-day holiday period which started Saturday, tripling from the same period in 2009, tourism officials have said.

A key factor in boosting the numbers was a decision by President Ma Ying-jeou's Beijing-friendly government in July 2008 to treble the average daily quota of Chinese tourists.

Taiwanese authorities have said that tourism grew in the island faster than anywhere else in Asia last year on the back of an influx of mainland visitors.

Ties between Taiwan and China have improved markedly since Ma took office in 2008, although Beijing still claims the island as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.

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