Fri, May 18, 2012 - Page 2 News List

Olympics, oil raise travel prices

OTHER OPTIONS:Sports fans giving the Olympics a miss might consider baseball-themed tours featuring Taiwanese pitchers Wang Chien-ming and Chen Wei-yin

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff Reporter

People who plan to travel to Europe or the US this summer must be prepared to spend more than usual because rising oil prices and the London Olympic Games have boosted the cost of package group tours, travel agents said yesterday.

The estimates were given by the Travel Quality Assurance Association, which regularly gives reference prices for various types of group tours at different seasons.

Travel Quality Assurance Association European Tour Committee chair Grace Chou (周文娟) said that the peak prices will last from the end of July to the middle of August — due to the London Olympics — and from the end of August to early September because of the Paralympics.

Demand for accommodation and transportation in the UK and the rest of Europe is expected to be high during that period, she said, adding that travelers were advised to book their tours as soon as possible.

Chou said prices for group tours to Europe were expected to increase by between NT$3,000 and NT$10,000 per person from the same period last year.

A nine-day trip to the UK in July or August could cost between NT$92,900 and NT$129,000 per person, Chou said.

Tours in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and France were the cheapest available. A 10-day tour in those countries in July or in August will cost between NT$73,900 and NT$77,900.

Meanwhile, prices for group tours to the US or Canada rose by between NT$3,000 and NT$8,000 compared with last year because of the rise in airfare and transportation costs caused by higher oil prices.

Aside from popular tourist destinations in the western US, including Disneyland, Universal Studios and the Grand Canyon, some travel agents have also started offering tours to the east coast because many baseball fans would like to watch games featuring Taiwanese pitchers Wang Chien-ming (王建民) and Chen Wei-yin (陳偉殷).

Wang is expected to pitch for the Washington Nationals again after recovering from a leg injury. Chen secured his fourth win this season on Tuesday, with the Baltimore Orioles beating the New York Yankees 5-2. He pitched seven innings and yielded only a double.

Herman Chen (陳崇銘), who serves on the association’s North American Tour Committee, said two or three travel agencies were putting together package tours for baseball fans. Tourists would stop primarily in New York, Baltimore, Washington and perhaps Boston, he said, adding that the tours would cost between NT$89,000 and NT$96,000.

“The tour will include one MLB game,” he said. “Hopefully, we can get to watch a game pitting Wang Chien-ming against Chen Wei-yin.”

Prices for tours of countries in Southeast Asia, Northeast Asia, China, the Middle East and South Africa also rose by between NT$1,000 and NT$5,000 per person.

Those looking for relatively inexpensive deals may want to consider trips to Australia or New Zealand instead.

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