SHANGHAI: As athletes make their final preparations and jet off to London for the Olympic Games which opens on Friday, Chinese travellers are doing the same, and travel agencies are cashing in by offering different experiences.
However, they don’t come cheap.
Travel agencies are designing new experiences for Chinese travellers to soak up the passion of the Olympics.
A seven—day tour around London, which includes tickets to three event finals, is priced at more than US$11,000.
Tang Qing, product manager, Caissa Touristic, said: "The products cater to the preferences of the Chinese customers and include competitions which the China team has higher odds of winning. For instance, badminton, table tennis and diving, these are some of the traditional strengths of China.
"In addition, we will also recommend customers to watch competitions that are more aesthetic, such as rhythmic gymnastics and synchronized swimming."
Despite the high price, demand is strong.
Boosted by the Olympic fever, revenue for London travel at this agency has increased seven times, compared to a year ago.
For something even more upscale, the travel company has come up with a premium tour, so travellers can live, dine and socialise like British royalty.
The week—long tour package costs US$25,000 and includes dinner at an exclusive club, private shopping, or lunch at London’s Louis Vuitton flagship store with a fashion show featuring its latest collection thrown in.
But the real highlight is a ticket to watch the 110—metre hurdle final in which Chinese star Liu Xiang is expected to participate.
The 2004 gold medallist dropped out of the Olympic 110—metre hurdles in 2008 due to an Achilles tendon injury, leading to nationwide mourning and disappointment in China.
For that price, you get to catch the event in the VIP bowl of the London Olympic stadium.
There is also a private cocktail reception before and a lavish dinner after the event.
Omar Chen, product manager , Ctrip Luxury Tour Department, said: "He (Liu Xiang) is the sports celebrity most closely watched here. At 29 years old, it will be a challenge for Liu Xiang to beat his three other major competitors who are 26 or 27 years old to the gold medal. Chinese citizens worry, anxiously watching if Liu Xiang will be able to live up to the nation’s expectations this time round.
"Of course if you can be there in person to feel the excitement and witness this historic moment, I think this is worth way more than any price you pay."
From air tickets to hotel accommodation to car rental, prices for London travel have at least doubled during this period.
Most hotels are fully booked. Because of the high price and limited capacity, many Chinese travel agencies are turning to post—Olympics business opportunities.