A new tour operator specialising in gay holidays is aiming to challenge stereotypes.

Managing director Rolf Kurth launched Embark last month with a projected annual capacity of 1,500 passengers. The operator is targeting gay men from the top end of the market and hopes to launch a programme for gay women in May.

However, in a bid to offer more refined product, Embark is avoiding traditional gay haunts such as Mykonos and Gran Canaria in favour of destinations including Italy, Austria, Canada, South Africa and the UK.

Kurth added: “The fact is, a night in an over-priced bar watching an out-of-work navvy mime to Gloria Gaynor, followed by dancing until noon in a multi-storey car park isn’t every gay man’s idea of a great holiday.”

“Gay men want the opportunity to opt in to a social scene but they don’t want it forced upon them. They’re turning away from ‘gay-ghetto’destinations.”

Sales and marketing director Ben Couldridge said the operator is offering the trips to different destinations while ensuring customers will meet one another by packaging in a number of optional adventure activities to provide a social element.

He added: “Gay men do want the safety element of not facing massive intolerance when they’re abroad, but they still want to go to new places. We’re focusing on the silent majority who you wouldn’t necessarily know is gay.”

Couldridge added that while the operator does not advertise traditional gay holiday destinations, they can still be booked through a bespoke service, while agents who sell the programme will be offered a 10% commission rate.

Prices lead in at £269 for a two-night, four-star spa break in Termes Montbrio in Spain, excluding flights.