Sun, Oct 28, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Central America unpopular among tourists: agencies

Staff writer, with CNA

The Taiwanese public has been lukewarm about travel to Central America, despite a variety of attractive packages, including ones featuring a so-called Mayan prophecy that predicts the end of the world on Dec. 21 this year, travel agents said yesterday.

It remains hard to sell any Central or South America tour packages due to local people’s unfamiliarity with the region, which is a relatively expensive travel destination, said Lion Travel Service Co, which was attending the ongoing 2012 Taipei International Travel Fair.

“Our ‘Mayan doomsday package’ was canceled because we did not have enough people to form a group,” said Lion Travel’s Mark Yen, who is responsible for developing the company’s markets for the region.

It seems the tour packages, which cost over US$10,000, are too expensive for most people, and senior citizens who are able to afford such holidays are less likely to be “doomsday buffs,” a manager surnamed Hsieh (謝) of Perfect Travel Agency said.

“Concerning cultural travel, Taiwanese people will not usually bother to travel half-way around the world when Angkor Wat in Cambodia is good enough,” he said.

Nonetheless, foreign travel companies still tried hard to tout Mayan tours at the Oct. 26-29 travel fair, which has attracted participation from 60 countries this year.

Luz Maria Martinez Rojas, a tourism representative from the Mexico Tourism Board, said now is the best time to visit Mexico to celebrate the beginning of a “new era” on Dec. 21, based on the Mayan calendar system that claims the world begins a new period every 5,125 years.

“We will hold mega-concerts and group weddings around the winter solstice,” she said, adding that as of last month, Mexico had received more than 60 million visitors.

She said the number of Taiwanese tourists who visited Mexico in the first five months of the year grew by 7 percent year-on-year.

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