Further options open for Straits travel

Updated: 2015-12-26 07:58

By Hu Meidong in Fuzhou and Lin Shujuan in Beijing(China Daily)

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A passenger ferry route between Huangqi in Fujian province and Matsu in Taiwan has allowed tourists and commuters a cheaper and faster choice for cross-Straits travel.

Huangqi, a port under the administration of the capital Fuzhou, is the closest mainland port to Matsu, which has also been connected with Mawei port in Fuzhou since 2001. A direct passenger ferry trip along the latter route takes around 90 minutes.

Each trip along the Huangqi-Matsu route, which crosses an 8-kilometer strip of sea, takes 25 minutes and costs 135 yuan ($21).

"The Huangqi-Matsu route has made daily commuting between Lianjiang and Matsu much easier," said Yang Wenjian, head of Lianjiang-Matsu Cultural Research Society, an NGO dedicated to promoting civil exchanges between the two places.

Residents from Lianjiang, where Huangqi port is located, and the surrounding area share similar traditions and customs with those in Matsu, according to Yang.

"Matsu is the only county in Taiwan where the majority of natives speak Fuzhou dialect as we do," said Yang, who was aboard for the maiden trip from Huangqi to Matsu on Wednesday. "We adore the same ancestors and gods and pay frequent and mutual visits to temples."

Chen Yihui, deputy director of the Fujian provincial tourism bureau, said the Huangqi-Matsu route, designed to transport 245,000 passengers a year, has the potential to boost the already red-hot cross-Straits tourism.

Matsu attracts around 100,000 tourists from Taiwan, Chen said.

"There is a high chance for them to extend their travel to the mainland thanks to the opening of the route," he said, adding that the Fujian tourism authority has incorporated the new route into several travel plans to attract Taiwan visitors.

Zhang Yongjiang, an official from Matsu country, is optimistic that the newly opened route will bring more visitors from the mainland to Matsu.

"Matsu, home to four towns and five islets, has long been regarded as the back garden of Fujian," Zhang said. "The new route has reduced the travel time between Fujian and Matsu to less than half an hour, which means tourists can visit the two places within one day."

The Huangqi-Matsu route, along with Mawei-Matsu and another two linking Xiamen and Quangzhou in Fujian and Kinmen in Taiwan, are a result of the "Mini Three Links", a pact signed between Fujian and the Taiwan-controlled Kinmen and Matsu counties and Penghu Island that allows small-scale transportation of personnel and cargo.

Further options open for Straits travel

(China Daily 12/26/2015 page4)