Taipei, Oct. 13 (CNA) Local tourism operators are keen to cash in on a surge in Taiwan nationals wanting to travel overseas after Taiwan reopened its border Thursday, with the lifting of the ban on outbound and inbound tour groups first imposed in March 2020.
The much anticipated border reopening has caused a spike in demand for outbound travel, after more than 30 months in which many local tourism operators specializing in group tours struggled to survive.
According to Richmond Tours Chairman Chen Kuo-sen (陳國森), Europe-bound tours that depart in October and November are very popular, with a surge in reservations shortly after the packages went on sale.
“Nearly NT$2 million (US$62,890) worth of tickets for a cruise trip to Europe that departs Nov. 26 have been sold, while a tour to Europe to view the Northern Lights in late December is almost fully booked,” Chen told CNA.
“Sales have been much better than expected, even compared with the pre-COVID era,” he added.
In a bid to attract keen travelers after the border reopened, all Richmond group tours for Japan have been made available to interested customers, he said.
Richmond has also obtained the right to fly over 60 charter flights to Akita Airport in the northwestern part of Japan’s Tohoku region, and is promoting tours designed specifically for that part of Japan, he said.
To cash in on the business opportunities expected after the border reopened, in July Richmond engaged with tourism industry suppliers in Japan to ensure services would be available when Taiwanese tourists returned to that country, according to Chen.
Richmond started planning before many of its competitors to ensure a good position in anticipation of outbound travel recovering following the border reopening, he said.
Richmond managers also flew to Southeast Asia in early July and to Europe in August to arrange flight or cruise charters in preparation for the expected flood of Taiwan tourists looking for trips overseas, he noted.
This approach was intended to create a “win-win” situation for everyone concerned, said Chen, who has been in the tourism industry for more than 40 years.
With airline and cruise companies seeing a steady inflow of passengers, travel agencies will be able to offer more economic packages to tourists, he added.
Moreover, with China yet to reopen its border, Taiwan travel operators can compete for greater resources, taking advantage of the void left behind by the absence of Chinese tourists around the world, Chen said.
“Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, it was pretty much impossible to get a room in a five-star hotel in Vietnam.”
Richmond has signed contracts to offer passenger charter flights and cooperate with hotels in Vietnam and the Philippines to serve Taiwanese tourists, he said.
Although some believe that rising air fares could fall and more airline seats be made available in spring next year, Chen said he does not think that will happen until 2024.
With the “0+7” protocol in place for arrivals from abroad, under which arriving travelers are only required to undergo a seven-day “self-initiated epidemic prevention” period, following the border reopening, the local tourism industry can finally take a deep breath and get back to business, Lion Travel general manager and spokeswoman Ann Lai (賴一青) said.
After seeing a sharp spike in demand for outbound travel, Japan remains the top destination choice for Taiwanese tourists, accounting for 49 percent of booked overseas sightseeing trips, followed by Europe with 19 percent and Southeast Asia with 8 percent, she said.
(By Flor Wang and Jiang Ming-yan)


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