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Travel bookings on a high despite economy

Despite the global economic crisis, vacation bookings have spiked during the Spring Festival, causing travel companies to raise their prices.


Tour packages to Australia, New Zealand, Japan and the Maldives are almost solidly booked, tour agencies said yesterday.


The Jinjiang International Travel Co said it had raised the prices of some high-level products for the Spring Festival period, such as a six-day trip to the Maldives, which costs 12,880 yuan (US$1,885), 20 percent more than usual. Dong Ming, general manager of the company, said many people had booked the trip.


"In fact, packages to Japan, Australia and New Zealand are almost all booked up," said Dong.


The China Youth Travel Service Tours, another travel company, said the Spring Festival is always peak season for out-bound tourism. Usually people have just got their annual bonus, and their finances are in a relatively good state during the period.


Dong said the Thailand-bound packages were not popular, due to the recent anti-government protests.


"Usually Thailand is a hot destination during the festival as people can enjoy sunshine and warmth there," he said.


Agencies said they will focus on other Southeast Asian destinations, such as Bali and the Philippines.


Agencies said South Korean tours are popular during the three-day New Year's holiday. Korean currency has fallen 40 percent against the yuan this year so it's a good time to shop in South Korea.


Domestic destinations will also be more expensive during the Spring Festival, with hotels in popular spots such as Sanya and Dalian charging about 10 percent more than usual., an online travel company, said airline tickets will cost less because the fuel surcharge has been cut, but hotels in some cities will raise prices 10 to 30 percent.


(Shanghai Daily December 26, 2008)