Five to six tours ready to visit Japan: travel agency

Five to six group tours are confirmed and ready to visit Japan, with the first departing on June 15, a travel agency said.

EGL Tours executive director Steve Huen Kwok-chuen said the agency received a large number of inquiries over the weekend after Japan announced it would allow some overseas tourists to travel on package tours. from June 10.

Hong Kongers will be able to travel to Japan as part of group visits and will not be required to undergo quarantine or take a Covid-19 test upon arrival.

Huen said most current tours are formed by a few members, including private custom routes for families.

There were already five to six groups confirmed and ready to go, the first of which was due to leave on June 15. Tour fees, including other expenses, reached nearly HK$30,000, three times higher than before the pandemic.

Huen said tour fees were higher because limited airline capacity brought the average cost of airfare to HK$6,000 to $7,000.

Meanwhile, the cost of the tour guide and driver, which used to be shared by 20 to 30 people, now had to be shared by two to four. The agency is also expected to pay employees’ salaries during their quarantine upon their return to Hong Kong.

Huen said tour fees are expected to come down a bit after the maximum number of people on a tour is relaxed.

The seven-day quarantine has been the “greatest resistance” to the industry, especially local hotels have seen limited supply and high spending, Huen added.

Some customers have indicated that they would be interested in overseas travel if the quarantine period could be shortened to three days or allow home quarantine.

Also, as Singapore, Malaysia and South Korea gradually open their borders, Huen said fees for visits to Thailand and Singapore will also rise sharply.

Some 30 to 40 people have already booked and were due to leave at the end of June to July.