Mon, March 16, 2009
China > HK/Taiwan

Taiwan welcomes first direct tourism ship from mainland

2009-03-16 08:00:45 GMT2009-03-16 16:00:45 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

A passenger liner arrives at Keelung port March 16, 2009. It's the first group of mainland tourists to the island by a passenger liner since the mainland and Taiwan started direct flights, postal and shipping services on Dec. 15, 2008, ending a 59-year ban on such links.(Xinhua/Wang Yan)

Tourists get off a passenger liner after they arrive at Keelung port March 16, 2009. (Xinhua/Wang Yan)

Local people greet the tourists who arrive at Keelung port by a passenger liner March 16, 2009. (Xinhua/Wang Yan)

Local working staff prepare to welcome the tourists who arrive at Keelung port by a passenger liner March 16, 2009. (Xinhua/Wang Yan)

Coaches wait for the tourists who arrive at Keelung port by a passenger liner March 16, 2009. (Xinhua/Wang Yan)

TAIPEI, March 16 (Xinhua) -- A ship carrying 1,600 Chinese mainland tourists arrived at Keelung harbor in Taiwan Monday morning, marking the first direct cruise from the mainland to the island.

"Legend of the Seas", a passenger liner of Royal Caribbean International, traveled about 40 hours after it set off from Shanghai Saturday. It arrived in Taiwan at 8:30 a.m., where passengers received a welcoming ceremony complete with traditional Chinese dragon and lion dances.

Keelung Mayor Chang Tong-rong said, "We welcome you far away friends in this warm spring when flowers are blossoming. We wish you a pleasant and smooth journey in Taiwan."

According to Yan Zhirong, a senior official with the Amway Greater China, most of the tourists aboard the ship are company clerks visiting Taiwan for the first time.

Yan said Amway plans to carry nine groups of 12,000 workers to the island for tours organized by China Travel International Ltd. Every tour will last six days and seven nights, with stopovers at main port cities including Keelung, Hualian, and Taizhong.

According to the mainland-based Cross-straits Tourism Exchange Association, more than 100,000 trips have been made by Chinese mainland visitors to Taiwan from July 2008 to March 12 of this year.

The mainland and Taiwan started direct flights and shipping services on Dec. 15, 2008, ending a 59-year ban on such links.

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