New tourism opportunities for mainlanders to visit Taiwan will benefit the island's tertiary sector and people, the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) said on Friday.
The mainland is ready to talk with the Taiwan side on the issue of opening tourism to Taiwan for mainland residents, said agency spokesman Zhang Jianzhong.
Once an agreement is reached, traveling to Taiwan will be conducted in a planned, gradual and orderly manner, he said.
For example, the number of tourists from the mainland will be made compatible to the receiving capacities and conditions of the Taiwan side, Zhang told a press conference.
"We hope the Taiwan side will authorize, as soon as possible, a civil tourism organ to hold consultations with the mainland on the opening of the trip to Chinese mainland residents," he said.
The opening of such trips will be a boon for Taiwan's tertiary sector and a boost for the exchange and understanding of people across the Straits, he said.
"It will bring concrete benefits to the general public in Taiwan as well," Zhang added.
The good-will statement raised high anticipations among mainland travelers, bringing closer to reality their seeing long-dreamt-of sights on the island -- the picturesque Alishan Mountain and the Sun Moon Lake (Riyuetan), to name just two.
Dun Jidong, an official with the China International Travel Service (CITS), said his agency has received numberless inquiries from travelers over the past years, asking when they could make trips to Taiwan.
"Now we will be preparing such travels by planning tour lines and other arrangements," he said.
In Guangzhou, a CITS branch official said a number of tourist agencies in Taiwan have showed great interest and had been talking with officials in recent days.
Zeng Guanghua, vice general manager of the Guangdong CITS Co Ltd, said they have arranged tour lines which include the scenic spots along the coast of the island.
Spokesman Zhang said the civil China Tourism Association will be authorized to make consultations with an organization in the Taiwan tourism industry.
Although the mainland has always supported expanding personnel exchanges across the Straits, and millions of Taiwan people have visited the mainland as tourists, but ordinary mainland residents have been denied trips due to restrictions by the Taiwan authorities.
As early as January 1, 1979, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress expressed in a letter to Taiwan compatriots the hope that the mainland residents would be allowed to travel to Taiwan as soon as possible, according to Zhang.
(China Daily May 21, 2005)