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Thousands of locals crowded the 10th Taipei Cross-Strait Travel Fair on Monday after leaders from both sides of the Taiwan Strait pledged to promote peace and prosperity at a historic meeting in Singapore Saturday.
Ciou Jyu-syong, a marketing manager with Pro-Tour Express Inc, a Taipei-based travel agency, has been busy handing out leaflets for the company’s travel package to southwest China’s Guizhou Province throughout Monday morning.
"Taiwanese like Guizhou. The landscape is very much different from Taiwan and the weather is very mild throughout the year. In addition, we do not have a problem with language and culture differences," said Ciou, who himself has been to Guizhou at least eight times.
Only about a third of his flyers were left by the time noon rolled around. "The weekend was even more crowded than today," he told Xinhua.
About 270,000 people attended the fair from Friday to Sunday, organizers said.
A Taipei woman surnamed Yu in her fifties collected a bag full of travel leaflets from the mainland delegation’s main desk.
"I have made several trips to the mainland but I still plan to go. I would like to visit Xinjiang (in northwest China) and Hainan (in the very south)," she said, adding she visited central China’s Hunan Province in September.
It used to be very difficult, if not impossible, for ordinary residents to travel across the Strait since the Kuomintang, led by Chiang Kai-shek, fled to Taiwan in 1949 after being defeated in a civil war.
Business and personnel exchanges resumed in the late 1980s but free travel, especially from the mainland to Taiwan, remained difficult. The two sides lifted the ban on mainland tourists in package tours to Taiwan in 2008 and on independent tourists in 2011.
Cross-Strait tourism has been one of the most prosperous businesses since 2008, an outstanding indicator of improving ties.
In the first nine months of this year, about 4 million Taiwan people visited the mainland while 3.11 million mainland tourists went to the island.
At the meeting with Ma Ying-jeou in Singapore, Xi Jinping said that there are still many Taiwan people who have never been to the mainland and he welcomes their visit.
Hsu Chin-jui, head of the Taiwan Travel Quality Assurance Association, told Xinhua that the meeting between the two leaders sent a message of peace and stability across the Strait, which is exactly what tourism business needs.
Tourism business from both sides should take advantage of this favorable situation and work together to provide people with more quality products and services, Hsu said, adding that their efforts will contribute to cross-Strait peace and exchanges as well.
At this travel fair, the mainland sent a large delegation of 820 people, including travel agencies and government tourism officials, and installed booths with a total area of 3,800 square meters.
Zheng Weirong, deputy head of the tourism department of east China’s Fujian Province, told Xinhua that the Xi-Ma meeting is definitely good news for tourism.
"I hope that, with the leaders meeting each other, more detailed policies will follow to simplify paperwork and other procedures for cross-Strait travel," he said. Taiwan is a major source of tourists for Fujian, which is directly across the Strait.