Hurtigruten is offering free flights on Norway cruise packages on the back of an increased marketing budget to drive trade sales.

About half of the niche cruiseline’s business currently comes through travel agents. But head of commercial Kathryn Beadle said the company is ultimately targeting 80% of sales through the trade. “We want to expand the business and we feel the only way we can substantially do so is through agents,” she said.

For the first time, the cruiseline plans to use marketing funds usually spent on consumers to invest in the trade. Beadle said: “The trade is the only area we have not exploited because we have not had the resources to do so – now we have.”

Already passenger numbers booked in January are 20% up on the same time last year and it is hoped the offer on scheduled flights will boost peak-season sales. “Traditionally in the UK we have strong sales in the shoulder seasons, but not so much in summer season sales, so this will help drive volumes.”

The free flights offer is available on flights to Norway for the 12-night Classic Round Voyage or seven-night Voyage South or Voyage North in June or July. The lead-in saving is worth £368.

They are available on flights from Aberdeen, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Durham Tees Valley, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Humberside, Leeds Bradford, London City, Gatwick, Heathrow, Stansted, Manchester, Newcastle and Norwich.

Prices start at £1,285 per person for the seven-night voyage, including free flights and full-board accommodation.