Taiwan and China have decided to boost their cross-strait weekly flights by 50 per cent to 558 to meet ever growing demand, the island’s authorities said Thursday.
The decision was announced after the two sides late Wednesday concluded their first meeting to review agreements signed since 2008, said an official at Taiwan’s Civil Aeronautics Administration.
The additional flights will cover at least two new destinations, including Tainan in southern Taiwan and Yancheng in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangsu, he said.
Taiwan is set to open up to individual Chinese tourists late this month in a highly-anticipated move to boost the island’s tourism sector.
Last year, the number of weekly flights was raised to 370 from 270, reflecting booming trade and travel between the mainland and the island, which are now linked by a sweeping economic accord.
Direct chartered flights began in 2008 and scheduled flights the following year, amid rapidly improving ties following the election of Taiwan’s China-friendly President Ma Ying-jeou three years ago.
Last year, more than 1.63 million Chinese visited Taiwan ‒ most of them tourists on organised tours ‒ a rise of 67 per cent from a year before, making China the biggest source of visitors to the island, according to Taiwanese government data.
Beijing still considers Taiwan a part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary, even though the two sides have been governed separately since 1949 after a civil war.