BEIJING, China – The number of Chinese mainlanders traveling to Taiwan as individual tourists from January to May totaled 166,000, an increase of 237.49 percent year on year, new data has showed.
State Council Taiwan Affairs Office spokeswoman Fan Liqing said at a regular press conference on Sunday that 385,800 mainlanders had traveled to the island as individual tourists by the end of May.
Fan said such tours to Taiwan have become increasingly important channels for people-to-people exchanges, and for strengthening ties between people from across the Taiwan Strait, and they have benefited Taiwan’s economy.
Furthermore, she said, the list of cities from which citizens can apply for individual tours to Taiwan will soon be expanded.
An overall ban on traveling to the island was lifted by Taiwanese authorities in July 2008. However, mainlanders at that time could only travel there as part of tightly run tour groups, business trips, academic visits and trips related to family affairs.
Taiwan first opened the door to individual tourists from mainland cities on June 28, 2011, but only to residents of three major cities — Beijing, Shanghai and Xiamen.
The list of eligible cities was expanded to 13 on April 1, 2012, as a result of negotiations.