At weekends in Times Square it has become more common to hear Putonghua than Cantonese since Hong Kong launched its individual travel scheme for mainlanders. But the city faces competition for attracting mainlanders - Taiwan will start receiving individual travellers from across the strait next month. Limits have been imposed: only a maximum of 4,000 mainlanders a day - including individual travellers and tour members - can visit Taiwan. The individual travel scheme covers visitors from only three cities: Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. 'A critical factor is how fast mainland authorities will open up its market,' Jack You, chief executive of the travel website ez Travel, said. The Taiwanese website, which has 2.2 million users, has finished preparations to embrace the change. Travel packages and hotel bookings targeting mainlanders will be available on its own website or on the pages of its strategic partner on the mainland, Ctrip.com, which has up to 40 million web users. Individual travellers tended to spend more than those joining tours, You said. They chose costlier hotels in prime locations and ate in better restaurants, making their daily spending nearly double that of tour members. However, they tended to spend less time at a destination. With the launch of the scheme, mainlanders have an additional destination to choose from. But Taiwan and Hong Kong were not substitutes and travellers would not abandon one for the other, You said. 'The mainland market is huge. Hong Kong and Taiwan are both must-go destinations for visitors.' Economic growth and appreciation of the yuan prompted a record high of 122,893 mainlanders to visit Hong Kong on April 30. The three-day Labour Day 'golden week' holiday saw 303,637 arrivals. For the time being, the website has yet to offer a tour including stops in both Hong Kong and Taiwan because different entry permits are required for each destination. Taiwanese tourists have greater flexibility as they can go to both Hong Kong and mainland cities on the same permit. Hong Kong is now a top destination for Taiwan outbound tourists. Last year, 720,000 stayed overnight and 66 per cent remained in Hong Kong throughout the trip. Of the remaining 34 per cent more than half went to Macau after Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Tourism Board was exploring with tour agencies in Taiwan the inclusion of stops in the Pearl River Delta, especially Shenzhen, in trips to Hong Kong, said Winnie Shyu, its director in Taiwan. Cathay Pacific's marketing manager for Taiwan William Ling Wei-chien said flights between Hong Kong and Taiwan could increase. After the launch of direct flights between the mainland and Taiwan in 2008, the number of Taiwanese transiting in Hong Kong dropped. But the number of flights between Hong Kong and Taiwan had returned to previous levels this year, he said.