FUZHOU, May 17 (Xinhua) -- A new passenger sea route opened Friday between Mawei in Fujian Province and Matsu, a small island attached to Taiwan but close to the Chinese mainland, drastically shortening the travel time between the two ports.
Carrying 99 passengers, the ship "Anqi XI" left Mawei at around 11:30 a.m. and reached Matsu in 80 minutes.
The new port on the Chinese mainland side, which is located in Langqi island, Mawei District, is 23 nautical miles off Matsu island, reducing the original journey by 40 minutes.
"The new route will facilitate people-to-people exchanges and boost tourism between the two sides, especially for those who commute between the two places," said Nancy Wu, a businesswoman from Matsu.
A round trip ticket on the new route is priced at 230 yuan (33.3 U.S. dollars), and the first 10,000 tourists visiting Matsu via the new route will receive a subsidy of 200 yuan each.
The original Mawei-Matsu route, which covers a distance of 32 nautical miles, opened in January 2001. Along with Xiamen-Kinmen route, it was the first direct passenger service between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan.
The Mawei-Matsu route has transported more than 645,000 passengers in over 12,000 voyages since it started operation 18 years ago.