Waves of Chinese tourists have begun arriving in Taiwan on the first regular direct flights for nearly 60 years. The weekend routes are a sign of improving relations between China and Taiwan and a major boost to the Taiwanese tourist trade.
At least twelve airlines, eight Taiwanese airports and numerous travel agencies have been rubbing their hands in anticipation.
The head of one Chinese airline said: “Flying across the strait and coming to Taiwan, the first thing I want to say is: it feels good to be home. It feels good to be home becasue people across the strait belong to one family.”
For security reasons, the flights will still have to fly a roundabout route through Hong Kong airspace, but lengthy stop-overs are a thing of the past. China still claims sovereignty over Taiwan but the two sides have had separate parliaments since 1949, forcing passengers to fly via a third destination. Taiwan’s new President Ma Ying-jeou had promised improved ties prior to his election in May.