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Lower costs, more options for travel deals

Direct air service between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan is good news for travelers, tour industry experts said yesterday.

 

Local travel agencies will offer discounted prices for the first direct air journeys, which are expected to take off at the end of the month.

 

For example, an eight-day tour package organized by the Shanghai International Travel Service Co Ltd will cost 6,380 yuan (US$932), about 600 yuan less than at present.

 

More than 30 tourists signed up for the trip yesterday on the first day of registration, the agency said.

 

It wasn't clear how long those bargains will last, however. And they won't be available from every agency.

 

Shanghai Jinjiang International Travel Service Co Ltd, said its direct-air packages will mainly serve business travelers and people visiting their homes on either side of the Taiwan Strait. Sightseers will probably still go to Taiwan using connecting flights from an intermediate destination such as Hong Kong.

 

"The price of direct service will be about 1,000 yuan higher than the price of connecting flights," said Dong Ming, Jinjiang's director. "We believe tourists will prefer connecting flights."

 

It wasn't clear why a connecting flight would cost less than a shorter, direct flight.

 

Beyond the short term, agencies said the direct air service will help them develop a greater variety of Taiwan tour packages next year.

 

"At present the packages mainly last five to eight days," said Liu Xiaojun, of Shanghai China Youth Travel Service Tours Co Ltd. "Next year we will develop some shorter-term products of about three to four days."

 

"We expect a four-day tour to Taiwan will cost about 4,000 yuan, which should be attractive to tourists."

 

Tour agencies will also develop theme products, such as honeymoon tours.

 

Industry insiders said the Taiwan-bound packages have been hot sellers since group tours opened to mainland travelers in July.

 

(Shanghai Daily December 16, 2008)