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Top News | Sophie Hui Feb 15, 2018
Today sees peak outbound tourism, and that's some 5 percent more than last year.

That's 1.3 million locals on the move, with Immigration Department statistics showing some 1.24 million traveled during Lunar New Year in 2017.

The 1.3 million figure is extrapolated from the Travel Industry Council yesterday saying this year's figures are up 5 percent.

The council explained that this Lunar New Year holiday is further off from Christmas so people are enthusiastic about traveling.

The rosy stock market at the end of last year also helped to whet travel appetite.

Even people who traveled during Christmas have joined in the trek overseas again.

EGL Tours executive director Steven Huen Kwok-chuen said the bulk of these travelers went to the mainland and north east Asian countries.

"Japan is still the most popular destination, even though the yen has gone up recently," he said.

Huen also said the destructive earthquake that struck Hualien this month did not affect sales for Taipei tours.

While South Korea is the choice of many ski lovers, Huen said some people preferred warmer countries such as Australia and New Zealand.

Huen said tour prices during the Chinese New Year holiday are about 50 to 100 percent higher than during the low seasons.

"Air tickets and accommodation of an average Japan tour is around HK$5,000 during non-peak seasons but the minimum cost for the same tour during the Lunar New Year can go up to HK$10,000 or more," he said.

A five-day tour to Kyushu is the most luxurious Japan tour that EGL Tour offers this holiday, with prices at HK$60,000 per head. Huen said the tour includes a journey on the Seven Stars cruise train and all 14 suites on the train were fully booked.

For incoming tourists an inbound tour organization expected the numbers to be similar to last year's.

However, the number of mainland tours to Hong Kong during the Lunar New Year holiday would drop slightly to around 100 tours a day.

Travel Industry Council executive director Alice Chan Cheung Lok-yee said the tourism industry understood the government's decision to cancel the fireworks on the second day of Lunar New Year.

"I believe most of the tourists will still visit Hong Kong despite the fireworks cancellation," she said.

Chan said tourists could still enjoy the New Year parade and "try lots of good food" in Hong Kong.

The parade tomorrow will feature nine floats along with 25 local and international performing teams.

The groups will present magic, cheerleading and march performances with music and dancing to welcome the Year of the Dog.

The parade will start at 8pm in Tsim Sha Tsui. Between 6pm and 8pm, visitors can enjoy street performances and games along the route while waiting for the parade.

Most hotels are fully booked this holiday and the council expects a 3 to 5 percent rise in local hotels' booking rate this year.

Chan said more hotels, both high and low-priced, will complete construction and begin operating in the coming months, providing more options for inbound tourists.

Tourist Guest Houses Federation of Hong Kong chairman Sam Lau Kung-shing said lower-priced guesthouses are almost fully booked, with prices of some rooms doubling.

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January 2019