Sharing deep cultural and political links, Taiwan and Hong Kong are, in many ways, more closely connected than other parts of Greater China. While their relationship has often strayed into economic rivalry, the two places continue to recognise each other's importance - and hopes are high that there will be a new era of co-operation. Last summer, Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou applauded Hong Kong, lauding significant improvements in relations and saying Taiwan has much to learn from the city. "Taiwan and Hong Kong are now each other's fourth-largest trading partners, and the [close ties] have contributed most significantly to Taiwan's tourism industry," he said. He also remarked that the city ranked first among Asian "tiger" economies in terms of GDP growth in the first quarter of 2013, slightly ahead of Taiwan, which ranked second with 1.67 per cent growth. Taiwan and Hong Kong share more than just cultural similarities, and they have long had an economic relationship. With more than 400 flights between Hong Kong and Taiwan every week - putting the route in the top 10 busiest - there has never been a better time for co-operation. Taking those hundreds of flights every week are not only business travellers, either from Hong Kong and Taiwanese companies dealing directly or those making use of Hong Kong as a go-between for Taiwan and the mainland, but also tourists heading both ways. Last year, visitors from Hong Kong and Macau to Taiwan topped 1 million for the first time, and the Taiwan Tourism Bureau Hong Kong Office, which is responsible for tourism promotion and marketing in the city, looks to increase this number by offering Hongkongers a variety of reasons to visit. No longer limited to shopping and eating, visitors are enticed for reasons as varied as educational trips, charity, family travel, spas and medical tourism, culture and arts, eco-tourism, and visits to religious and spiritual sites. The bureau also feels that, given the myriad reasons for travel to the island, there is a keen uptake from Hong Kong tourists for revisits. Along with Taipei - understandably a main draw - the island also boasts the largely undeveloped east coast, a bounty of nature that can be appealing to city-bound Hongkongers.