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Taiwan opposition-led city government sends delegation to mainland

XIAMEN, June 16 (Xinhua) -- Tainan municipal government, led by Taiwan's main opposition party, sent a delegation to attend the fourth Straits Forum, which opened in southeast China's coastal city of Xiamen Saturday evening.

It is the first time that a Democratic Progressive Party-led local government has sent a delegation to the forum, the largest annual platform for mainland-Taiwan exchanges at grassroots level.

"Tainan and southern Fujian Province share the same customs, culture and language, and have the desire to communicate and cooperate," Huang Li-zhou, a Tainan city legislator, said.

At a conference on Saturday, Lin Kuo-hua, representative of the Tainan city government and deputy head of the city's tourism bureau, invited mainland tourists to visit Tainan and experience the city's unique natural sceneries, history and civilization.

Lin said around 400,000 tourists from the mainland visited Tainan last year. The number was much lower than that of the cities in north Taiwan.

"We will create a 'friendly' Tainan to welcome tourists from the mainland," he said, adding that safety of the tourists will be guaranteed.

Long queues of people have been seen in the Zhongshan Street of Xiamen, where 60 snack stalls from Tainan were set up.

"All the snacks are transported directly from Tainan," said Lee Jin-quan, leader of a businessmen delegation from Tainan.

"We hope to open a Tainan snack street in Xiamen and the neighboring Quanzhou City," he said.

The mainland is currently the biggest source of tourists to Taiwan. In 2011, more than 1.78 million mainland residents visited Taiwan, up 9.4 percent year on year. Mainlanders accounted for nearly one-third of the 6.08 million visitors the island received last year, according to Taiwanese tourism authorities.