WTM 2018: Gardaland targets UK market with themed family hotel

Italian theme park Gardaland hopes a new themed hotel for families and a growing partnership with Jet2holidays will help it boost sales into the UK market.

The theme park, which has 40 attractions including adrenaline rides such as Oblivion, Raptor and Blue Tornado, sits on the south of Lake Garda.

Head of international sales, Alessandro Zissis Bernacchi, said agents could sell Gardaland stays as part of a larger trip including visits to cities such as Milan, Venice and Verona and could be paired with activities such as kite-surfing on Lake Garda.

“The Lake Garda region is already a very popular place for tourism with 4.5 million tourists every year,” he said. “Gardaland is a fantastic resort. Our guests may stay on site in our hotels but want to see the region around Gardaland as well as spending a few days at the park.

“The UK for us is a brand new market. Lake Garda has been a destination from the UK for couples and senior citizens but we have a great offering for families now too.”

The theme park, part of the Merlin Entertainment groups behind Alton Towers and Warwick Castle, only started targeting the UK market in recent years. Zissis Bernacchi said the typical length of stay for UK guests is a week while, internationally and including domestic visitors, guests visit the theme park itself for an average of 1.5 days.

It has events around Oktoberfest, Halloween and Christmas and a Night is Magic season where the park stays open until 11pm. There is also a Sealife aquarium on-site, with sea horses a new addition for 2019.

Gardaland signed a deal with Jet2holidays in 2017, with this year its first full season selling packages through the operator. It is served with eight Jet2 flights per week from UK airports into nearby Italian airports, capacity for which will rise 22% for 2019 with larger aircraft to be used. It also sells via Attraction World and Hotelbeds.

The new 128-room on-site Gardaland Magic hotel is slated to open on May 31 2019, offering rooms wizard, enchanted forest and magic ice castle themed-rooms aimed at families with children up to the age of eight.

It will be the third on-site hotel at Gardaland, along with the 100-room Gardaland Adventure Hotel and the 247-room Gardaland Hotel.

The Travel Weekly team is reporting extensively from this year’s World Travel Market, stay up to date on our live blog and event microsite

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