World Cup fans will have to pay the price

 

Soccer fans travelling to the World Cup in Korea and Japan may have to pay a minimum of €5,000, judging by the the first travel packages on offer.

Prices for flights, half-board and transfers to matches are starting at about €4,500 for a 12-day, three-match package, covering the first round of the competition. This does not include match tickets, which start at about €220, or the additional cost of meals.

Club Travel is offering one-match packages for the Germany game on June 5th, starting at €2,620, excluding match tickets, but the more popular three-match deal starts at €4,750. The company estimated it would have 500 bookings but Ms Denise Egan said that figure looked likely to grow.

"We already have a lot of corporate bookings of groups of 40, 50 and 100. Individuals and pairs are slower because people still have to get their match tickets but we have had a lot of phone calls and with ticket allocations being made in the next few weeks we expect to be busy."

Stephen's Green Classic Sports Travel is issuing its World Cup brochure on Friday when it will open bookings on two charter flights, each with 374 seats.

Prices, for flights, accommodation and internal transfers start at €4,444, based on two sharing. "In mid-February we will have details of an add-on package in case Ireland make it through to the second round," said Mr Dermot Ryan.

Ray Treacy Travel, which has a deal with the Football Association of Ireland to source match tickets for fans, will release details of its packages early next week but a spokeswoman said they would probably start at €5,000.

Some fans, especially younger people, are incorporating a World Cup stopover into their pre-planned world tour. "Their ultimate destination is usually Australia but they're making the most of the journey by stopping in Tokyo for the World Cup," said a spokeswoman for a long-haul specialist, Colette Pearson Travel in Dublin.

Another possibility of minimising costs is offered by a British Internet firm with "Follow the Footy" packages for Ireland supporters on insidejapantours.com

For €1,853, fans get 12 nights accommodation and internal bus and train tickets plus an information pack with maps, timetables, details of places to eat and other advice.

The overall cost depends on how cheaply travellers can get flights, which have to be sourced separately, although the company does offer a flight-finder service.

"We deal exclusively with travel to Japan so we were able to advertise our packages the day after the draws were made last December and we've had a lot of interest from fans in Ireland," said Mr Simon King.

However they make their arrangements, fans are being warned to check that their travel agents or tour operators are licensed before handing over any money.

The Commission for Aviation Regulation said the World Cup presented an opportunity for amateur tour operators to put together packages for fans who would be without comeback if anything went wrong.

To get a licence from the commission, a travel agent must be insured or bonded. The commission lists all approved licence-holders at www.aviationreg.ie.