Consumers bargain hunt at travel expo

PLANS FOR JAPAN?:Due to the recent natural disasters that hit the nation, one travel company is offering Japan packages at 30 percent off the price of last year’s offer

By Jason Tan  /  Staff Reporter

Mon, May 16, 2011 - Page 12

Non-stop rain over the weekend apparently failed to dampen consumers’ interests in pampering themselves with a summer getaway.

Many bargain hunters were spotted at the Taipei Tourism Expo, which opened on Friday and ends today at the Taipei World Trade Center’s Exhibition Hall 1.

Among them were a five--member family that was on the lookout for a trip to Europe, either in France, Switzerland and Italy, or Holland, Germany and Belgium.

The daughter, currently a business administration student at National Taiwan University, is one of a three-member team that won the L’Oreal Brandstorm marketing competition and will represent Taiwan in a competition with 32 teams from different countries in Paris next month.

“My family wants to take the chance to visit Europe since I will be there next month. We have a budget of NT$70,000 to NT$100,000 per head for the trip,” she said.

Jin Hsieh (謝東良), 32, hailing from Jhongli (中壢), Taoyuan County, was at the expo looking for ideas for his next travel destination.

Hsieh, who runs a candy and snacks family business, had traveled to some countries that are deemed not popular for many Taiwanese, such as Turkey and Poland.

The promotional packages to Tibet caught his eyes, but he didn’t sign up for any tours on the spot.

“I would prefer to go solo to Tibet to explore the local culture,” he said.

For those who could splurge, Richmond Tours (山富旅遊) was promoting an eight-day, seven-night cruise to Alaska.

The Diamond Princess, which boasts 1,337 cabins, will offer those onboard a luxurious experience that “creates a lasting impression,” according to company’s senior general sales manager, James Lee (李慶良).

The company only offered five Alaska tours at last year’s expo, but decided to increase to seven this year in view of the better economy. Each tour can -accommodate 30 travelers.

Meanwhile, tour organizers said there was no better time than now to travel to Japan, as travel packages for the country — which was hit by an earthquake and tsunami on March 11 — were being promoted at attractive prices.

Comfort Travel Service Co (康福旅行社), for one, is offering a family package for three at NT$70,000 this year, a 30 percent decrease from last year.

“This is indeed a very attractive promotion considering that -summer is the peak season for Japan travel,” Comfort vice general manager Chipo Lee (李季柏) said on the sidelines of the expo.

Many Taiwanese canceled their trips to Japan in March and last month or changed their destinations to Southeast Asia, China and Hong Kong, but the momentum for Japan-bound tours has started to pick up this month, he said.

However, Lee said it was hard to gauge if consumers would flock to Japan despite cheaper prices.

“By and large, people are still concerned about safety,” he said.

Japan Tourism Agency last Thursday called on Taiwanese to resume travel to its quake-stricken region, saying many tourist attractions emerged from the disaster unscathed and that the situation was under control.

With a few exceptions, public transportation, power supply and other infrastructure have returned to normal for the northeastern region, which consists of six prefectures: Akita, Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi, Yamagata and Fukushima.