Taiwan to relax rules for Chinese visitors

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The Independent Online

Taiwan is to extend by two months the period in which entry visas can be used by mainland visitors, an official said Friday, in its latest move to promote tourism amid improving ties.

"We hope the new regulation will boost the number of mainland visitors to Taiwan ... and allow them more flexibility in planning their trips," said the interior ministry official.

Although Chinese visitors will now have three months in which to make their trip instead of just one, they will still only be allowed to spend no more than 15 days on the island.

Former bitter rivals Taiwan and China have taken a series of measures to boost bilateral tourism since the island's Beijing-friendly government took office in 2008, including swapping semi-official tourism offices.

More than 1.2 million Chinese have visited Taiwan since the island first relaxed rules on mainland tourists in July 2008, according to government data.

Taiwan authorities have said that tourism grew in the island faster than anywhere else in Asia last year due to mainland visitors.

Beijing still considers self-ruled Taiwan part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.