Bales Worldwide is to launch a trade website after more than 15 months’ development.

But only part of the operator’s product – escorted tours – will be bookable on the site when it goes live in January.

The tour operator said making all its tailor-made itineraries bookable online was a time-consuming task.

Sales director Ian Fenton said: “Our tailor-made product is far more complex. It will be bookable as soon as it’s feasibly possible. We would rather get it right and do it properly.”

The tour operator, which has just celebrated its 60th anniversary, has also launched its largest Africa programme to date for 2008/09.

It offers an expanded choice of Zambian walking safaris, off-the-beaten-track safari options in Tanzania and luxury adventure camping in Botswana. Prices start from £1,550 per person for a nine-day Serengeti Safari in Tanzania.