Wed, Sep 12, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Island spat may hit trade: firms

TESTING TIMES:Ongoing disputes over the Diaoyutais could threaten lucrative markets just as new, low-cost flights begin to bolster Japanese tourist numbersf

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Some travel agents have begun to express concern over mounting tensions between Taiwan, China and Japan over the sovereignty of the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), adding they hoped the dispute could be settled through the wisdom of the Taiwanese and Japanese governments.

Travel Agent Association secretary General Roget Hsu (許高慶) said he hoped that the tension would not worsen and would not affect the lucrative Taiwan-Japan tourism market.

“Even though people in Taiwan have not reacted to this issue as dramatically as those in China, we are still worried,” Hsu said. “The governments in Taiwan and Japan should use their wisdom to settle this dispute.”

Hsu said the Japan-Taiwan tourism market was set to improve following an increase in direct fights offered by low-cost carriers, adding that rising tensions could potentially disrupt that growth momentum.

Lin Jian-ming (劉見明), general manager of Best Way Travel, said the agency has yet to see the repercussions of the dispute.

“Customers rarely pay attention to political disputes when they go traveling,” he said.

Separately, the Travel Quality Assurance Association yesterday unveiled a series of lower-priced package tours available from next month to December.

Excluding tours to the US and Canada, the prices of package tours to Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe, the Middle East, South Africa, India, Australia and New Zealand have all risen compared with the same time last year.

The association said that package tours to the US and Canada cost between NT$3,000 and NT$8,000 less, because the prices of air flights as well as hotel charges and tour-bus costs have all decreased, compared with this time last year.

Package trips to Europe cost between NT$3,000 to NT$6,000 more due to an increase in fuel surcharges and changes to the availability of tour packages.

The association said many travelers would start including the UK in their trips to Europe this time around, because the country had just held the Summer Olympics.

The opening of the Harry Potter studio in the country has also become another tourist attraction, the association added.

The largest increase was seen in the costs of package tours to Australia, which increased by about NT$7,000 compared with this time last year. The association said that Australian tours are more expensive this fall because of a stronger Australian dollar, higher prices for flights and higher hotel-tour charges.

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