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European trips could be bargains for Lunar New Year

People looking for winter travel bargains might want to consider trips to Europe, including Turkey, as a report from the Travel Quality Assurance Association yesterday showed that tour prices for those destinations are significantly lower than in previous years.

The report reviewed prices for group tours between next month and March.

The prices for the tours to Southeast Asia, Northeast Asia, China, Europe, the US and the Middle East looks to be about the same or lower than this year, but Australia, New Zealand and Indochina tour prices are increasing, the report said.

Prices for most of the travel routes in Turkey or elsewhere in Europe are expected to drop by NT$2,000 to NT$10,000 compared with this year’s because next year’s Lunar New Year holiday will run from Jan. 27 to Feb. 1, and many travel agents expect travelers will not be as interested in long-distance trips, the association said.

The decline of the euro on foreign exchange markets also contributed to the drop in tour prices, the report said.

Tsai Shu-wen ( ), the association’s specialist on European tours, said that January, February and March are the off-peak travel season in Europe, so many travel agencies are willing to offer discounts to tourists heading there.

“Due to the bomb explosion at Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport in June and the military coup this year, Turkish Airlines as well as Turkish travel operators are offering really good deals to attract customers,” Tsai said.

These incentives could lead to a short-term spike in interest in the market, Tsai said.

The report said that tour prices for Japan will dropped by NT$1,500 to NT$2,500 for trips during the first two weeks of January and from mid-February through March.

Tour prices for Japan over the Lunar New Year holiday are likely to be NT$5,000 to NT$6,000 cheaper because of the increase in the number of flights offered by low-cost carriers, the report said.

However, travelers heading to Australia and New Zealand are likely to pay more over the winter — NT$4,000 and NT$9,000 respectively — although prices could increase by as much as NT$18,000 for trips taken between Jan. 21 and Feb. 3, the report said.

The appreciation of the Australian and New Zealand dollars are partially responsible for the increases, the report said, adding that Chinese airlines have increased the number of their flights to the two nations, boosting tourist numbers and creating intense demand for hotel rooms and tour buses.

Liu Zhi-wei ( ), an Indochina tours specialist, said the cost of tours to that region for the Lunar New Year are likely to be NT$3,000 to NT$5,000 higher.

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