Hong Kong soccer fans give World Cup package deals the red card

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 March, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 05 March, 2010, 12:00am

Package bookings for this summer's soccer World Cup in South Africa have fallen sharply but travel agencies are still hopeful of a late surge.

With less than 100 days before the big kick-off, Hong Tai Travel Services has only received a paltry 10 bookings. Deputy general manager Daniel Chan Kin-pang said: 'Four years ago, we had over 200 bookings.'

Chan believes people are watching their money these days and are not willing to pay for the packages which range from HK$34,000 for four nights, to well over HK$400,000 for 32 nights per person travelling to Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg. Flights, accommodation, admission to soccer matches, return transportation for the venue and airports are included in the price.

He anticipated the number of bookings to be similar this year to those for the last World Cup in Germany in 2006 and admits the numbers are worrying. 'At the moment, it doesn't seem very popular,' he said.

'I think it may have something to do with people's willingness to spend, even though the economy has largely recovered.' A spokeswoman for Miramar Travel said that they had 30 confirmed bookings since the packages became available in December. Most customers were travelling to watch quarter-final and semi-final games.

She said that the booking system required immediate confirmation, which might explain why customers were reluctant to commit.

Travellers' details cannot be changed once the booking is confirmed, as the travellers' name is printed on the soccer tickets.

Prices vary greatly because visitors can choose to watch earlier matches that cost less, or the more expensive semi-finals and final. And a range of accommodation is available at different costs.

Economy class customers, who share a twin room in a four-star hotel for five nights and watch one match, can expect to pay around HK$40,000.

Business-class travellers, who stay in a single room in a four-star hotel for seven nights, and watch two semi-finals and the final, will pay almost HK$180,000.

The corporate communication manager at Travel Expert, Sabina Chan, said that hotel rooms cost three times more during the tournament, than at normal times.

Staying put

One Hong Kong travel agent, who had 200 bookings for Germany 2006, has only had this many bookings for the summer showpiece in South Africa: 10