Taiwan set to allow solo Chinese tourists in June

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The Independent Travel

Taiwan is expected to lift its decades-old ban on visits by individual Chinese tourists in June in a highly-anticipated boost to its tourism sector, a top official said Tuesday.

The two sides have tentatively agreed to allow up to 500 solo tourists a day from major Chinese cities including Beijing and Shanghai to visit the island, said premier Wu Den-yih.

"We will gradually open up but we won't open our door completely at once," he said.

From July 2008 to April this year, more than 2.2 million Chinese visitors came to Taiwan, generating about Tw$110 billion ($3.82 billion) in revenue for the island, according to official Taiwanese data.

Currently, Chinese are only allowed to visit the island in groups as Taiwan's authorities are concerned they might otherwise overstay their visas and work illegally.

Beijing still considers Taiwan part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary, even though the island has ruled itself since 1949 at the end of a civil war.

But the two sides have taken a series of measures to boost tourism since Taiwan's Beijing-friendly President Ma Ying-jeou took office in 2008.