G Adventures is launching a programme of active tours to mainstream European destinations that British travellers traditionally associate with beach holidays.
Europe, Middle East & Africa managing director, Brian Young, said the new collection would “challenge the stereotypes” of some of Europe’s biggest mass market holiday destinations.
Young urged agents to “rethink what’s on offer” and how it might meet changing demands of consumers post-Covid.
The destinations featured are summer sun staples Ibiza, Corfu, Crete, The Azores, Sicily and Southern Spain, in addition to Greenland, with the first departures due in March 2021.
Young said: “This is amazing for travel agents. Aside from Greenland, these destinations are their bread and butter. At G Adventures, we usually have to do loads of training about a destination first of all, then the product, but agents already know these much-loved places. We are now giving their customers the opportunity to go and see a very different side to them.”
The collection was informed by recent research undertaken by G Adventures, which identified that travellers from the UK and Europe were the most likely to travel internationally in the next six months, while ‘small-group’, ‘active’ and ‘outdoor, nature-focused’ trips were the three most popular types of international travel.
Brits surveyed said they would opt for closer-to-home options for travel in early 2021.
“The collection offers a new perspective into what each destination has to offer and will see travellers swapping nightclubs for coastal hikes in Ibiza, package beach holidays for remote villages in Crete, large complexes for cave hotels in southern Spain and big-ship cruising for mountain camping in Greenland,” said Young.
“This presents an opportunity for agents to educate travellers about what else is on offer and drive repeat and new business for 2021.”
And he added: “Consumers are creatures of habit. Once they find somewhere they love, they tend to go back for the destination, the food, the culture and the people. This is a way to go back and do something different and more experiential, as opposed to getting beach boredom.”
Young added that good agents could package up a G Adventures tour with a week on a beach, or clubbing.
“Agents are brilliant and some may see this as an opportunity to create a holiday that combines one of our new tours with what their customers usually do,” he said.
Young described the Greenland tour as “something very special”.
“Cruise lines which go up to that region always pass on the West Coast of the island and maybe stop for a morning. Our tour is to the East Coast, which is more interesting and our guests will see glaciers, fjords, mountains and the Northern Lights whilst hiking and camping under the stars. This is going to be spectacular,” he said.
The tours will cater to a variety of fitness levels with hikes ranging from average to challenging. Each trip will incorporate time with local communities and food experiences, ranging from visits to remote fishing villages in Greenland to time with a local cheese maker in Corfu, and Tsikoudia tasting in Crete.
“Our surveys and recent bookings show that there’s real demand among UK and European travellers to get away in early 2021, to escape the cities, reconnect with the great outdoors and be active,” said Young. “These trips have been specifically designed for shoulder seasons to cater to that demand, while offering lower tourist numbers and the best temperatures for hiking. The familiarity that comes with these well-known, closer to home destinations, along with the advice and support provided by a travel professional will help to provide travellers with the reassurance they need to lock in their next holiday.
“We’ve seen people’s travel habits start to shift away from the traditional bucket and spade holiday, as travellers look for more immersive, local experiences, which has driven the growth of the adventure travel sector in recent years. These new tours offer the best of both worlds – the opportunity to visit a familiar destination, while seeing what’s on offer beyond the tourist hotspots and celebrating local people, food and landscapes.”