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High World Cup Tour Fees Deter Soccer Fans
Sales of tour packages to this summer's soccer World Cup have failed to live up to expectations, with hefty fees keeping local fans away, several Shanghai-based travel agencies said.

Spring International Travel Service Co. and Shanghai China Travel Service Corp. are two of the only agencies in the city claiming to have tickets for China's first three games in South Korea in June.

Spring International first launched a five-day package tour to any of the three cities - Seoul, Gwangju and Seowipo - for 11,800 yuan (US$1,422) in February. Reacting to poor sales, the company has rolled out various schemes - ranging from 5,900 yuan for city to 26,800 yuan for three cities - in the past two months.

So far, only 700 fans have registered with the agency, still 300 short of the 1,000 tickets it ordered from the China Football Association.

Shanghai China Travel Service Co. is in a worse situation because it received tickets from the CFA much later.

It first offered a four-day package tour to any of the three destinations for 9,800 yuan in late March, but few were interested. Last week, it began offering a two-day package tour for 5,900 yuan and that, too, may change.

"Local fans who could afford the high prices have already gone to Spring International," moaned Chen Suiqin of Shanghai China Travel.

"We believe a two-day outbound tour is too short so we are discussing a five-day tour by ship," Chen added.

Fans can also opt for other agencies, including Shanghai China International Travel Service Co., which have limited tickets provided to them by the sponsors and available for about 8,000 yuan as part of a five-day package tour, including one game.

China, in Group C, plays Costa Rica on June 4 in Gwangju, Brazil on June 8 in Seogwipo and Turkey on June 13 in Seoul.

Locals attributed their lack of enthusiasm to the high prices.

"The charge has increased three-fold - too expensive," said Eric Jiang, a local fan. "I would prefer to stay at home and watch the live telecast rather than endure a tiresome trip, eat disagreeable food and live in an ordinary but expensive hotel."

But the agencies attributed the high charge to a hike in lodging, dining and transportation fees in South Korea.

"The CFA has set the price according to the charges in South Korea," said Jiang Weihao of Spring International Travel Service.

(eastday.com April 28, 2002)

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