Intrepid and Eurostar urge travel agents to offer rail alternatives

Intrepid Travel and Eurostar are urging agents to offer clients rail options as an alternative to flying, because they have smaller carbon footprints.

Fourteen agents joined the operators ahead of the Atas Experiences event in Italy last week, to see how travelling by train can be more sustainable.

The ‘slow travel’ option saw agents travel with Eurostar from St Pancras to Paris, where they took the ‘Hidden Montmartre’ Urban Adventures tour with Intrepid.

They travelled by TGV on the following day from Gare de Lyon to Zurich, before taking a train through the Alps to Como on the third day.

Carrie Grant (pictured left), Intrepid Travel’s UK & Ireland senior partnerships manager, accompanied the agents.

“We wanted to showcase the power of slow, sustainable travel,” she said.

“You see lots in a short time without the stress of airports and the carbon footprint of flying; it is making travel part of the adventure.”

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She said Intrepid can tailor-make tours by rail for agents, featuring a mix of free time and guided elements.

Stephen Roby (right), Eurostar’s UK leisure sales manager, joined the agents for the London-Paris leg of the trip.

“Sustainable travel is a huge thing for us. We want to showcase making rail part of the holiday experience,” he said, highlighting that, on average, the carbon footprint of travelling on Eurostar trains is 95% less than flying.

“Rail is having a renaissance as people are more conscious about their environmental impact.”

He said Eurostar is planning more day trips for agents to Brussels, Lille and Paris, during which they will see both Standard and Standard Premier classes.

Eurostar Group unveiled new branding last year following the merger of Eurostar and Thalys.

“We had about 19 million passengers last year and aim to reach 30 million a year by 2030,” added Roby.

Gareth Harding of Travelosophers said: “I will definitely recommend ‘go slow to Como’ to clients.”

• Agents on the trip said:

Rebecca Berzins, Travel Counsellors: “It is a great way to showcase sustainable travel and what is possible in a short amount of time. Train travel is more comfortable and less stressful.”

Dan Bartholomew Oates, Travelosophers: “This gives me expertise to recommend more sustainable travel. When I told clients about it, they said it was almost like a bucket-list experience. Rail is coming into vogue.”

Julie Crumpton, Silver Travel Advisor: “The Intrepid guides were so enthusiastic, and rail is a relaxed way to travel.”

Rachel Wilcox, Travel Counsellors: “I put together group trips that I accompany. I will have confidence to lead it now I have done this.”

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