Chinese mainland tourists travel to Taiwan as agreement officially takes effect

2008-07-18 12:18:12 GMT       2008-07-18 20:18:12 (Beijing Time)       Xinhua English

BEIJING, July 18 (Xinhua) -- More than 1,000 Chinese mainland tourists in 38 travel groups arrived in Taiwan Friday as a travel agreement between the mainland and Taiwan officially took effect.

The tourists, who flew to the island from Beijing, Tianjin, Shandong, Shanghai, Nanjing, Xiamen and Guangzhou, included youths on their summer holidays, retired elders and their family members.

Travel agencies and tourist guides in Taiwan warmly welcomed the visitors, holding up red banners with welcoming words.

Under an agreement signed by the mainland-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits and the Taiwan-based Straits Exchange Foundation, mainland tourists could visit Taiwan by chartered flights on weekends from July 18.

From July 19 to 21, another 700-plus mainland tourists in 28 groups will arrive in the island.

"Ever since I heard the news that mainland people could visit the island, I've been dreaming about the tour. Today my dream has come true," said a mainland visitor surnamed Xu.

He said he was excited about visiting the famous scenic spots in Taiwan he only read about in the past, such as the Mount Ali and the Sun Moon Lake.

The first cross-Strait weekend charter flights kicked off on July 4,carrying about 760 mainland tourists to the island.

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