Tourism operators are keen to cash in on a surge in Taiwanese wanting to travel overseas after the nation reopened its borders on Thursday, ending a ban on outbound and inbound tour groups imposed in March 2020.
The 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.
Richmond Tours chairman Chen Kuo-sen (陳國森) said that demand for Europe-bound tours to depart this month and next month is high, with a surge in reservations shortly after the packages went on sale.
Photo courtesy of the Sun Moon Lake National Scenic Area via CNA
“Nearly NT$2 million [US$62,727] of tickets for a cruise to Europe departing on Nov. 26 have been sold, while a tour to Europe to view the northern lights in late December is almost fully booked,” Chen told reporters.
“Sales have been much better than expected, even compared with the pre-COVID-19 era,” he said.
In a bid to attract travelers, all Richmond group tours for Japan have been made available, he said.
Richmond has also obtained the right to fly more than 60 charter flights to Akita Airport in the northwest 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, Chen said.
Richmond managers also flew to Southeast Asia in early July and to Europe in August to arrange flight and cruise charters in preparation for the expected flood of Taiwanese tourists, he said.
With a steady flow of travelers for airline and cruise companies, travel agencies would be able to offer more economical packages, he added.
Moreover, with China yet to reopen its border, Taiwanese travel operators can compete for greater resources, taking advantage of the void left by the absence of Chinese tourists, 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,” he said.
Although some believe that rising airfares could fall and more airline seats be made available in spring next year, Chen said he does not think that would happen until 2024.
With the “0+7” protocol in place for arrivals from abroad, under which arriving travelers are required to undergo a seven-day “self-initiated epidemic prevention” period, 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 a sharp spike in demand for outbound travel, Japan remains the top destination choice for Taiwanese, accounting for 49 percent of booked overseas sightseeing trips, followed by Europe at 19 percent and Southeast Asia at 8 percent, Lai said.
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