Fans deflect big hopes of World Cup tour operators

09:10, May 26, 2010      

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With the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa just around the corner, tours to South Africa have got cold shoulders from Chinese tourists who believe the prices are too high.

Chinese travel agencies report they are seeing far fewer tourists than they had expected, compared with past World Cup tours.

Most of those companies began preparing one year ago for the launch of the South Africa World Cup special tour, expecting the huge profits such tours have generated in the past. Tourism boomed in France, Japan and South Korea, the previous host countries, during their World Cup games.

The price of the special eight-day trip to South Africa ranges from 30,000 yuan to more than 80,000 yuan, depending on whether guests watch the quarterfinals, semifinals or the final, and the quality of their hotel.

"More than 30,000 yuan for eight days is too much for me. It would cost me almost half a year's income. It is simply not worth it," said Zhang Jun, 29, a technician at a foreign trade company.

"And as far as I know, none of my soccer-loving friends have plans to go to South Africa," Zhang added.

Sun Shijian, 60, a retired physical education teacher, told METRO he and his wife both love watching soccer games. They traveled to South Korea to watch the 2002 World Cup. But they will not fly to South Africa this time.

"The high price is a major reason," Sun said. "Besides, South Africa is too far away. The long flight is too tiring for people our age. Also, we think there will be so many tourists by then that you cannot have a full experience of what South Africa can offer.

"We also worry about the security condition in South Africa. I heard there have been frequent strikes there and I wonder whether tourists can carelessly stroll around. Of course, the price is higher than I think it's worth," Sun said.

Ma Nan, marketing manager of Beijing UTour International Travel Service Co Ltd, told METRO security is far less important than price in most customers' minds.

"As a matter of fact, most scenic spots in South Africa are very safe," Ma said. "No need to worry about it. It is the price that is really keeping people away. Many young soccer fans came to us, excited. But when heard about the price, they asked no more," Ma said.

Ma also said the average normal price of a tour of South Africa, excluding World Cup games, is 10,000 yuan. During the off-season the price drops to 8,000 yuan.

When asked why the price has more than doubled, Ma cited hotel prices and the cost of plane tickets, both of which have increased greatly.

"We cannot lower the price any more. We initially planned to organize six teams, but we are now able to have only four teams with 10 to 20 members each. All of the team members are in their 30s or 40s, love soccer and have both money and time," Ma said.

Guo Shuping, manager of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa tour project at China Ocean International Travel Service Co Ltd, also told METRO that slightly more than 10 customers have registered with the company.

"The number of tourists is far fewer than we had expected. I'm not optimistic about the number of mainland tourists heading for the final," said Guo.

Statistics from, a search engine for travel products, shows that bookings of tourist routes in South Africa rose 35 percent from April 5 to May 15, compared with the same period last year. Searches using the key words "World Cup" on increased 473 percent, with a 267 percent increase in the searches for "South Africa" during that period.

Source: China Daily


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