2008-07-10 15:55:25 GMT 2008-07-10 23:55:25 (Beijing Time) Xinhua English
TAIPEI, July 10 (Xinhua) -- The launch of weekend charter flights and mainland residents coming to Taiwan as tourists on July 4 marks the starting point of development towards a win-win situation for the mainland and Taiwan, said a senior official in Taiwan.
It is also a key breakthrough for the island's development, said Liu Chao-shiuan, head of Taiwan's "Executive Yuan", at a meeting here Thursday during which the island's traffic department reported the implementation of a plan on weekend charter flights and mainland tourists' tours in Taiwan.
His remarks were related at a press conference held after the meeting.
July 4, 2008 is the day when the first weekend charter flight across the Taiwan Strait kicked off and the first group of mainland tourists set foot on the island.
Liu said that looking back on Taiwan's history, opening up usually led to prosperity while a closed-door policy resulted in recession and decline.
Sticking to the opening-up policy and continuing to loosen restrictions would gradually bring fresh water to Taiwan's economy and usher in a new age of peace and common prosperity across the Taiwan Strait, he said.
He said as the long-desired direct flights were delayed for many years and planes had to make detours, people's benefits were impaired and so was Taiwan's competitive power.
Statistics from the Taiwan authorities show that the first week of charter flights drew 12,065 passengers, or 81.5 percent of the total capacity. Up to 90.7 percent of the 14,608 seats were already booked for the second week of charter flights that begins on Friday.