Mainland tour groups coming to Taiwan? China’s latest attempt to woo its renegade colony

Pandas last week, tour groups this week. However, it remains to be seen if and when the hordes of Chinese tourists will start arriving here.

China issued new rules allowing mainland tourists to visit Taiwan, continuing Beijing’s efforts to court the disputed island with economic overtures, but it was unclear when any Chinese tourism to the island would start.

The new rules reported in state media on Monday allow authorised mainland travel agencies to organise group tours to Taiwan. Taiwan travel services must also win approval from Chinese agencies to host mainland tourists.

The Chinese tourist agencies “must require host (Taiwan) agencies do not lead or organise tourists to take part in any activities involving gambling, licentiousness or drugs,” the rules said.

Both China and Taiwan place tight restrictions on mainland visits to the island. The trickle of mainlanders now able to travel there is tiny compared to the 4.1 million trips to the mainland last year by Taiwan people, many of them investors.

The tourism rules continued Beijing’s campaign of seeking to win over Taiwanese opinion by holding out possible investment and trade rewards. They were issued by the Chinese government on Sunday, a day after China announced possible aviation, agriculture and finance concessions to Taiwan at an economic forum in Beijing attended by Chinese Communist officials and Taiwanese opposition politicians.

As with anything having to do with China (like which pinyin to use) the tourism topic has been reduced to endless bickering between Chen and the Mainland. As always, everything comes down to political posturing on both sides, and the only ones who always, inevitably, totally come out the losers are the people, be they the Taiwanese or the Mainlanders.

(This is a sore topic with me. I’m travelling to China in a few weeks and am not happy about my ticket fare – it would be cheaper for me to fly round-trip to Los Angeles! On a direct flight, it would take about 80 minutes to travel from Taipei to Shanghai. Since you have to go through Hong Kong, however, the ticket price and the amount of travel time soar exponentially. $1,000 for a round-trip flight that, in miles, is equivalent to the distance from Hong Kong to Taipei. As I said, the politicians get to “hold their ground” and “look tough,” while the people down on the ground have to bear the burden. To hell with both sides when it comes to this nonsense.)

The Discussion: 4 Comments

I don’t know who you’re booking with. Tickets for 350 to 450USD are widely available. Granted, things would be cheaper and more convenient if there were direct links. But, as I have been looking at prices in the last few weeks, I know for a fact that they are less than half of what you say.

April 17, 2006 @ 11:13 pm | Comment

I’m using my company travel agent. I originally was using one in Hong Kong who has gotten me cheap tickets for years, and hers were even more expensive – about $1200. I just looked on, where I get great fares to Singapore and Thailand, and the two cheapest fares from TPE to PEK are $946 (macau airlines) and $1081 (Cathay Pacific). From TPE to SHA the lowest fares are $800 and $896. I can fly roundtrip to LAX for this amount. Please tell me whom you buy your cheap tickets from. Thanks.

April 18, 2006 @ 2:46 am | Comment has about 40 different flights on it under $500. I just checked it. You need to be able to book tickets from them in Chinese. Look at the local sites. They have the decent fares. I guarantee that 800 is much more than you need to spend.

April 18, 2006 @ 8:34 am | Comment

Anything for travel w/ in mainland China or HK?

HKG/CAN nearest airports.

April 18, 2006 @ 3:34 pm | Comment

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