Little joy as cheaper travel lures few takers

Top News | Sophie Hui 29 Nov 2019

'Tis the season to travel - with Christmas tours to popular destinations costing 5 percent less than last year.

But woe to the travel industry as the number of registered tour members from Hong Kong to the mainland has fallen 15 percent.

Affected by the trade war and protests and since there is only one month between Christmas and Lunar New Year, the industry is generally taking a dim view of business, the Travel Industry Council said.

The number of registered members of high-speed rail tours during the holiday period - December 21 to 26 - has fallen about 20 percent compared to the same season last year.

The good news for Hongkongers who love to travel is the cost is 5 percent cheaper. About 70 percent of high-speed rail tours will depart from the West Kowloon Station. Popular routes include Guangdong, Guilin, Xiamen, Guizhou and Zhangjiajie, where tours cost from HK$800 to HK$8,000.

The number of bus tourists to Guangdong is also down 20 percent year-on-year despite the tour costing 10 percent less.

The council said about two-fifths of bus tours will go through the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, while the cheapest two-day tour to Zhaoqing costs only HK$609.

Hongkongers who want to fly farther usually go to Japan and South Korea, while for long-haul travelers it's Australia and Northern Europe, the council said.

An owner of a travel agency will lead a HK$66,888 five-day tour to Hokkaido in Japan on Christmas Eve, with tour members flying in business class, staying in a top hot-springs hotel and eating crab, seafood and Wagyu beef meals.

Cheaper tours to Hokkaido include a HK$9,999 five-day tour.

Those who are into skiing can consider joining a five-day trip to Seoul and Konjiam Resort leaving on December 21.

This would set you back HK$16,998.

A more affordable choice to South Korea is a five-day tour to Seoul departing on Christmas Eve, costing HK$2,999.

Or consider Down Under with an eight-day tour to Western Australia and Perth at HK$12,998, and a nine-day tour to Tasmania costing HK$31,998.

Further out, the council said a 23-day tour to South America departing in mid-December costs HK$185,998, including business class travel and eating king crabs in Chile.

The tour includes a helicopter ride to the world's largest waterfalls, Iguazu Falls in Brazil, and a visit to the ancient Inca citadel Machu Picchu, in Peru, by train.

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