Act fast to book that Christmas getaway

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 November, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 November, 2010, 12:00am

Holidaymakers should act fast if they are keen to book outbound trips this Christmas.

Some group tours are already full because of the bullish local economy.

Long-haul trips to northern Europe, Egypt and Dubai have been fully booked since the middle of last month.

And travel agents are reporting a significant growth in the long-haul market as Hong Kong recovers from the financial crisis.

Popular tours include Wing On Travel's 11-day trip to Finland, even though the cost is HK$33,000 per person. The same trip cost HK$26,000 last year, meaning the cost has risen by 26 per cent.

Jo Jo Chan, the agency's general manager, said prices had risen by 3 to 10 per cent year on year on average, mainly because of the weak US dollar and fewer seats on flights.

She expects prices to jump further, to between 10 and 15 per cent year on year, as the holiday season draws nearer.

But Chan said: 'Enrolment remains strong as Hongkongers' spending power is also stronger. The stock market is rosy and employers are offering pay rises to their staff.'

Travel Industry Council chairman Michael Wu Siu-ieng expects up to 7 per cent more Hongkongers will spend their Christmas holidays abroad this year.

This will represent an increase of 15 per cent in terms of the amount they are going to spend.

He said: 'We are seeing the return of more luxury travel products such as cruise travel and tailor-made group tours.'

He expected the price of tours departing in late December to jump by 8 per cent on average compared to last Christmas. Kuoni head of sales Raymond Lo Wai-man said the company was anticipating 30 per cent growth in revenue and in the number of travellers during the winter season compared with the same period of last year.

Lo said the most expensive tour it had during Christmas was an 11-day trip to northern Europe at HK$33,000 per person. About 80 per cent of the quota has already been taken up.

Diannia Cheung Shuk-man, assistant general manager at travel agency Morning Star, said apart from long-haul travel destinations, South Korea and Taiwan are Hongkongers' favourite places to spend Christmas. Group tours to South Korea cost about HK$5,000 per person, compared to more than HK$3,000 for a festive trip to Taiwan.

Travelling to these two places is cheaper than going to Japan, as many Christmas tours to the country cost more than HK$10,000, partly because of the strong yen.

She said the appreciation of foreign currencies would raise prices by between 10 and 20 per cent.

But Cheung was hopeful of achieving at least 30 per cent growth in revenue and client numbers this Christmas.

Taking flight again

Resurgent Hongkongers are back in the market for a far-off winter break

The average rise in the cost of outbound festive trips for holidaymakers from the city this year is: 10%