Travel Impressions Partners With Mayflower on Escorted Tours to N. America
Travel Impressions plans to add escorted tours to North America to its 2013 lineup, president and CEO Steve Gorga told Travel Market Report. The U.S. and Canada itineraries will be operated by Mayflower Tours, expanding Travel Impression’s partnership with the Downers Grove, Ill.-based operator. Travel Impression’s 2013 escorted lineup likely will also include an Italy itinerary and Europe river cruises, also through the Mayflower partnership, Gorga said.
Travel agents have been asking Travel Impressions, which sells exclusively through agents, to add escorted tours, said Gorga, and the partnership with Mayflower is in response to that demand. Travel Impressions, which is owned by American Express, primarily offers vacation resort and independent destination packages.
The firm is marketing a Sept. 24 sailing of an eight-day Blue Danube Legendary River Cruise aboard the Amadeus Diamond through the partnership with Mayflower. That sailing visits Hungary, Slovakia, Austria and Germany. Earlier this year, it launched a line of Alaska motorcoach tours. Gorga said those tours are selling well.
Globus Anticipates OK to Start Cuba Programs
Globus is awaiting final approval from the federal Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to operate a people-to-people program to Cuba, Mike A. Schields, managing director, groups and emerging markets, told Travel Market Report. Last year, Globus was ready to market Cuba programs, but OFAC withdrew its approvals. (See “Tour Firms Seek to Restore Cuba Plans After U.S. Clampdown,” Aug. 25, 2011.) “Following last year’s chain of events, where the rules were re-stated from OFAC, we quickly proceeded to pursue our own people-to-people license for Cuba,” said Schields, adding that “the process has taken longer than we had hoped.”
Globus had partnered with the Center for Caribbean Religion & Culture to offer a religious-themed tour. Once OFAC approvals are received, which Schields said he expected soon, Globus “is prepared to move very quickly, as we had itineraries already built last year,” said Schields.
YMT Vacations Slates Cuba Cultural Tour
YMT Vacations has announced a cultural immersion program to Cuba, after receiving an OFAC license this spring. YMT will operate a nine-night People-to-People Exchange Program to Cuba, with departures on Sept. 4, 11, 18 and 25. The cultural immersion tour is priced from $1,999 per person and includes in-depth tours of Havana and Santa Clara, as well as cultural and educational activities. YMT pays 10% commission on the Cuba program.
Collette’s Cuba Tours Feature Educational Exchanges
Earlier this year, Collette Vacations was granted an OFAC permit to run tours built around educational exchange activities in Cuba. Collette’s nine-day Rediscover Cuba - a Cultural Exploration spotlights the people of Cuba with stays in Trinidad and Havana. A seven-day program, called Heart of Cuba, staying only in Havana, was added in February. People-to-people activities include meeting a Cuban family in their home or a privately-operated restaurant and visiting an orphanage to meet the nuns who have dedicated themselves to helping the children.
The Heart of Cuba tour was introduced to meet growing interest in travel to Cuba, said Collette Vacations Product Manager Patrick Gallagher. It departs roughly each week, from late-September to mid-November and aims to provide clients with education about Cuba and meaningful interactions between the travelers and people of Cuba,
Clients said that highlights of the Rediscover Cuba include visiting the Ernest Hemingway House; meeting a Cuban family for dinner in their privately owned restaurant; and going to the home of José Fuster where one of the artist`s apprentices or the artist himself talks about his work, which is inspired by Antoni Gaudí. These activities are also included in Heart of Cuba tour.
Religious Tours for the Budget Traveler
Globus will offer three new religious tours under its Cosmos budget vacation brand in 2013, along with three Globus vacations. The new Cosmos religious tours will include a nine-day Spiritual Highlights of Italy and nine-day Holy Land Discovery. Also, in an appeal to the sizable group market for religious tours, Globus and Cosmos are offering a program that includes a donation to a group’s church. Under the program, called Get Out & Give Back, when groups book their faith-based vacation with Globus or Cosmos, the company will contribute up to $1,000 to the church, after the trip’s conclusion. Travel agents can tie into the fundraiser, but certain conditions apply.
The new faith-based offerings are in response to findings of a study on religious travel commissioned by Globus. The study, conducted by TravelStyles, found that one-quarter of all travelers are motivated to travel internationally for the first time by faith-based vacations, especially to Italy and Israel. Globus said its Israel & Jordan and Grand Catholic Italy tours are two of its most popular faith-based tours year after year.
Train Tours in Great Britain
Discover Travel & Tours has announced new rail tours of Great Britain. One rail tour, Wales Great Little Trains, includes transportation by coach and/or train for eight days, seven nights at centrally located three-star hotels, full English breakfast, seven dinners, and sightseeing. The tour is priced from $1,526.
England's Magical West Country offers the same hotel and meal inclusions as the Wales tour, plus sightseeing in London and Bath; full day tour to Stonehenge and Avebury, Lacock National Trust Village and the Cotswold village of Castle Combe; a full day excursion by steam train, river cruise and coach in Torquay; and helicopter flights to the Scilly Isles.
This tour is priced from $1,469.