Thu, Mar 07, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Baseball fans flocking to Japan

TRAVEL PICKUP:With the travel season picking up, tour prices to Europe may rise due to higher flight ticket prices, while those to Japan may drop due to a weak yen

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

A group of baseball fans cheer for the Taiwanese team at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport yesterday as players depart for Tokyo for the second round of the 2013 World Baseball Classic, which starts tomorrow.

Photo: CNA

Inquiries about flights and accommodations in Tokyo have jumped following Taiwan’s entry into the second round of the 2013 World Baseball Classic, travel agents said yesterday.

Despite their 2-3 loss to South Korea on Tuesday night, Taiwan qualified for the second round of competition because they lost by fewer points overall than South Korea in the Pool B games. Both countries won two games and lost one.

Best Way Travel manager Chen Tzu-chia (陳子嘉) said people inquiring about travel deals combining flight tickets and accommodation are likely to be free independent travelers (FIT) who want to cheer the Taiwanese team when they compete in Japan.

“The difficulty in arranging this kind of travel is travel agencies have to look for hotels that are near the game venue and get flight tickets for all group members,” Chen said.

Aside from problems with accommodation, Chen said those heading to Tokyo may have difficulty buying game tickets as baseball fans from around the world are also going to watch the games.

However, some of the travel agencies had bet that Taiwan would enter the second round and started making travel arrangements for hard-core fans before the Lunar New Year holiday.

In other news, the Travel Quality Assurance Association has released forecast tour group prices for different continents from next month to June. Tour groups to Europe may see prices rise by NT$3,000 to NT$5,000 per person compared with the same time last year because of an increase in airplane ticket prices and a slight appreciation of the euro.

However, prices for tour groups to Japan’s Kansai area could drop by NT$1,000 to NT$3,000 per person due to a weak yen, while those to traveling to the Hokkaido region may see prices drop by about NT$3,000.

People planning to visit the Tateyama Kutobe Alpine Route could see tour prices rise by NT$2,000 due to higher ticket prices.

Tours to Southeast Asia, South Korea, China, North America, the Middle East, South Africa, South Asia, Australia and New Zealand may either be flat or see a slight increase because of higher oil prices, tour bus fares and seasonal factors.

While there will be cross-strait direct flights to nine cities in western China, such as Hohhot, Urumqui and Hailar, travel agents warned that tour prices to these regions are not necessarily cheaper.

“The direct flight services to these airports actually cost more than the transfer flights,” South East Travel Services manager Chen Chih-hung (陳志鴻) said. “These airports are close to some of new and increasingly popular tourist destinations in China, such as the Silk Road and the Hulunbeir Grassland. They attract a large number of Chinese tourists as well.”

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