If you’re a European traveler, you’re no doubt familiar with the continent’s shrinking regions. The European Union is constantly “re-shaping” itself, as countries try to find ways to fragment the ever-narrowing continent. The latest loss: the UK. The UK is set to exit the EU on June 23, as was previously agreed upon, but it will not be a simple transition. There are still some questions about what will happen to its citizens living in the remaining EU member states after that date. However, this is just one of what are expected to be several rounds of negotiations to sort out the issues of the UK’s exit. As it stands now, the UK will still be a member of the EU but will not
Being a digital nomad means having the freedom to travel whenever you want to. You can take your laptop with you wherever you go, and you can do so without having to worry about visas, electrical outlets, or what language the country will accept. You can go to places where there is no WiFi and no cell phone service—and still have the ability to work, write, and update your blog.
Europe has lost its charm and its indie-cool appeal, in the opinion of many travelers and residents alike. The United States, Canada, and Australia have all become more popular destinations for travelers over the years, while Europe has been (rightfully) criticised as being over-touristed, over-clogged, and over-crowded. Although there are still interesting places to visit, Europe doesn’t seem to attract as many travelers as it used to, and that’s a shame.
While some U.S. travelers are eager to plan their European vacations this year or next, tour operators and DMCs are seeing an interesting shift in the scope and approach to booking travel to Europe.
Travel Agent spoke with Terry Dale, president and CEO of the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA), Andrea Grisdale, CEO and sole founder of IC Bellagio, DMC for Italy, and several tour operators to get their perspective.
More targeted coverage
While U.S. travelers to Europe typically include multiple countries in their vacation, this year that is not always possible due to complications at border crossings, COVID-19 screening requirements and other entry requirements at international destinations. Some still travel to a few countries, but maybe less – maybe two, but not four, five or six. Tour operators offer many interesting options for travelers looking for these types of services. For example, Globus offers the seven-day Imperial Escape itinerary between Budapest, Hungary, and Prague, Czech Republic. He visits two countries.
While other travelers still want to go to multiple countries, I’m hearing more and more that consumers are focusing on one country, Dale says.
Insight Vacations is offering a new nine-day roundtrip tour of the country roads of Andalusia, dedicated entirely to southern Spain. Departures are scheduled through October, with prices starting at $2,775 per person based on double occupancy. Upon arrival in Spain, travelers will immerse themselves in a tapas tour, sherry tasting and the ecological beauty of Doñana National Park, which is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Ramsar Wetland and UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The advantages of booking a tour of one country are obvious: Once approved, travelers don’t have to think about taking the tests again or filling out the necessary paperwork for the next destination in just a day or two.
We see people who just want to relax, take a break and chill out in a certain place, Dale notes.
Collette’s hosts in Switzerland: You can see the Matterhorn on the Hidden Trails and Majestic Peaks route.
Another good example: Collette has an attractive offer: Switzerland for 11 nights: Hidden Trails and Majestic Peaks route with various departures in 2021 from August to late October. Guests visit Zermatt, in the shadow of the Matterhorn in the Swiss Alps, and explore Vevey on the Swiss Riviera. Cost from $4,249 per person based on double occupancy.
Combined with the narrower scope of the trip – a more in-depth approach to exploring Europe. As a result, travelers are looking for more creative urban experiences, either in the best city – with activities first-time visitors are not used to doing – or by taking day trips to secondary cities in the region that have unique attractions.
In the Netherlands, travelers can stay in Amsterdam but visit lesser-known attractions, or stay in Rotterdam, Delft or Arnhem, the latter home to a fascinating World War II museum.
In Croatia, you can take various day trips from Dubrovnik or book a hotel stay in Split, Zagreb or even on the charming island of Korcula. You can also book a hotel in Bruges or Antwerp instead of Brussels, Belgium.
In Italy, Grisdale of IC Bellagio gives the following suggestions for creative exploration: Puglia and Basilicata offer great opportunities for culture, gastronomic experiences and more active options such as hiking and cycling, while the Dolomites are attractive for skiing in winter, hiking and cycling in summer and rock climbing.
Apart from visiting the usual places during a holiday in Como, Italy, she says the place can be considered ideal for water sports like kayaking, wakeboarding and paddleboarding. There are also many hiking and biking opportunities around the lake, as well as caves and a beautiful, relatively unknown wine region.
She adds that from Como you can also reach other places such as Milan, Lake Garda, Lake Maggiore and Bergamo, all of which are fantastic in their own way.
Visitors to Venice can also take a day trip to Verona and possibly stay there, as it is a great city in its own right, with easy access to the Franchacorta wine region, Lake Garda and Venice. The town itself, of course, is known as the setting of the movie Romeo and Juliet and has an amphitheater that dates back to the first century, Grisdale said.
She also praises Bologna for its gastronomic experiences and the University of Bologna, which was founded in 1088; it is the oldest continuously operating university in the world.
Travelers are increasingly looking for an authentic experience in a particular country. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look at the highlights, Grisdale says. Of course, they are marked for a reason.
She continued: However, we are seeing more and more requests from people who want to live like a local, where they can experience life through the eyes of a local. This gives travelers access to amazing history and culture, but also allows them to learn about the current climate and see pristine aspects of their favorite country.
Authentic Plus Durable
Potential European travelers are looking for more than just an authentic experience. According to our sources, including Dale, travelers are increasingly asking if tour operators offer green options. This reflects the results of a recent Virtuoso survey of travel agents, travel advisors and preferred partners, in which nearly 70% of respondents believe that sustainable travel improves the vacation experience.
Jessica Hall Upchurch, vice president and sustainability strategist at Virtuoso, sees the increased commitment to sustainability as a conscious return as travel is rediscovered in new and innovative ways.
Among the companies actively making progress on sustainability? As an example, Dale suggested looking at The Travel Corporation and its brands. Under the Make Travel Matters banner, travel brands like Insight Vacations and Contiki select new experiences based on the positive social or environmental impact they have on communities and those they visit.
These are selected on the basis of a set of robust criteria directly linked to the UN’s global objectives. On Insight Vacations’ 28-day Scandinavian heritage tour of Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland, travelers can immerse themselves in the history and culture of Norway’s Sámi tribe, one of the oldest in the world.
You will visit a museum in Karasjok, Norway, dedicated to the representation and preservation of Sami history; the museum has a collection of more than 5,000 objects of cultural heritage. The museum contributes to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 11 of the United Nations: Sustainable cities and communities, telling visitors about the resilience of the Sami community and their efforts to maintain traditional tribal customs.
For example, the Contiki Berlin-Budapest train, which travels through Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic and Hungary, is offering a new walking tour called Refugee Voices, led by award-winning storyteller Hesham Moadamani, a Syrian refugee, who will recount the horrors Berliners faced in the 20th century. It is also a reflection on people who face similar challenges today.
The new Contiki Portugal – City and Surf itinerary also offers a new experience of Cascais through art; this urban art gallery is a narrative, art gallery and outdoor museum all in one. The Bairro da Torre came to life and young local artists decorated the grey and dilapidated buildings with bursts of colour, expression and positivity. As you stroll the streets of Cascais, the guide will tell you sobering stories of transformation and unity.
So when Americans call their travel advisors to inquire about travel options in Europe in 2021 or 2022, more Americans than usual will be looking for a one- or two-country roundtrip rather than a six-country roundtrip. Yes, some still want it, but the balance is shifting. Consumers will also wonder how to view cities from a creative perspective or use secondary cities to explore the country and dive deeper into the way of life. And more and more people are asking for environmentally friendly options.
Intrepid launches new sustainable tourism experience in Europe have always been a traveler. I remember as a child asking my parents “where do you want to go?” and quickly being told we had an encyclopedia at home, so we needed to choose carefully. It was not until I was older that I realized that we could travel internationally—and we did!. Read more about hidden countries in europe and let us know what you think.