Expedition cruise line Aurora Expeditions has joined the Association of Touring and Adventure Suppliers (Atas) to boost relations with trade as it expands its UK business.
The company aims to take agents on fam trips this summer and can offer training and marketing support for agencies.
Describing itself as a pioneer of polar expedition travel, the Australian company celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2021 – and appointed Jos Dewing as its first UK managing director to spearhead growth in the British market.
Its two ships, Greg Mortimer and Sylvia Earle, offer cruises to the Arctic and Antarctica, as well as the British Isles, US and Canada, Iceland, Norway and Latin America.
Dewing said: “Our business in the UK is growing significantly as more and more travellers are seeking lighter footprint and small-ship travel to the more remote places on the planet.
“Booking such trips really does require the expertise of a knowledgeable and experienced travel agent to ensure you get the most of the, often once-in-a-lifetime, experience.
“There are many different ways to visit the Antarctic peninsula and many different months to do so, you need an expert agent to explain what is best for your trip and when is the best time to go to see what you want to see.”
He said the company is expanding its workforce to support its growth plans and help the travel trade.
“We now have two inside sales agents; we are recruiting a new reservations agent and a new business development manager to support our growing UK agent base,” he said.
“We are also investing in familiarisation trips, having sent over 50 agents to Antarctica this season, and many more planned for our summer Arctic programme.
“We are investing in co-operative marketing support for our valued UK and Ireland partners.”
As well as summer fam trips, the firm has a cooperative marketing fund and can offer tailored in-house or online training via its dedicated UK business development team.
Bookings from the UK are up “significantly” and show no sign of slowing, he commented, adding: “Interest in Antarctica and the Arctic had never been stronger and longer trips are certainly on the rise, with many standard Antarctica trips requiring at least thee weeks of travel.
“Many travellers are emerging from Covid restrictions with a very curious mind for travel and expedition seems to be high on the list of ‘book now’ experiences that likely evolved during lockdown with heavy research on bucket-list trips.”
He said joining Atas is important because “Aurora is adventure” – from hiking in the footsteps of Shackleton in South Georgia to scuba-diving in Antarctica, stand-up-paddleboarding in Baja California or sea kayaking in Svalbard.
Aurora was founded 30 years ago by an adventurer and mountaineer called Greg Mortimer, “so the adventure travel sector is a key place for us to raise awareness of our product and focus”, Dewing added.
He described the company’s cruises as “extraordinary”, commenting: “Those who know it, never look back. We have beautiful new ships that were purpose-designed for expedition.
“We have the most extensive activity programme in expedition and visit the places people really want to experience now.
“Additionally, we are focused on sustainable travel; 100% carbon neutral as a company and offering a powerful citizen science programme onboard our voyages.
“We are very much about supporting agents; that is our primary focus as a team.”
Claire Brighton, account director for Atas, said: “We are very excited that they’ve joined. Expedition cruising is a key part of adventure travel and, for the first time, it will feature in our Touring Adventure Month in April.”