Monday, April 6, 2009

Chinese travel agencies urge additional flights across the Strait

Visiting Chinese travel industry representatives said Saturday that the interest is high among Chinese residents in making sightseeing trips to Taiwan, but that the number of direct cross-Taiwan Strait flights is not enough to meet the market demand.

They also suggested that Taiwan publicize a list of hotels suitable for providing lodging for Chinese tour groups at reasonable prices.

The travel industry representatives expressed the views after concluding a five-day market appraising tour of Taiwan. Most of them are senior executives of the 113 Chinese travel service agencies who recently obtained licenses from Beijing authorities to organize tours to Taiwan. According to them, Chinese tour groups now mainly comprise elderly people aged between 55 and 80. Many more Chinese citizens are also interested in visiting Taiwan for sightseeing purposes, but travel agencies often have difficulties securing sufficient flight tickets on direct cross-strait routes. As a result, they said, many mainland tour groups have to travel to Taiwan via Hong Kong or Macau.

Carriers on both sides of the Taiwan Strait are currently allowed to operate 108 direct cross-strait charter flights per week. The two sides are expected to discuss the launch of scheduled direct cross-strait flights later this year.

Responding to Chinese travel professionals' call for presenting a hotel list, Wu Chao-yen, chief secretary of Taiwan's Tourism Bureau, said that the first batch of hotels that pass a new star-rating assessment will be unveiled in the second half of this year.