Tag Archives: tour operators

Lindblad Expeditions Acquires Duvine Cycling, Off the Beaten Path Adventure Travel Companies

Lindblad Expeditions Holdings, a global provider of expedition cruises and adventure travel experiences has acquired majority stakes in DuVine Cycling + Adventure Co., a leading luxury cycling and adventure travel company, and Off the Beaten Path LLC, a leading active travel operator with a specialization in U.S. national parks. 

NEW YORK– Lindblad Expeditions Holdings, Inc, a global provider of expedition cruises and adventure travel experiences today announced that it has acquired majority stakes in DuVine Cycling + Adventure Co., a leading luxury cycling and adventure travel company, and Off the Beaten Path LLC, a leading active travel operator with a specialization in U.S. National Parks.  These acquisitions further broaden and deepen Lindblad’s platform of high-quality experiential product offerings in robust adventure travel sectors, including the rapidly growing cycling tourism and domestic expedition market.

Similar to the acquisition of Natural Habitat, Inc., Lindblad will leverage its experience and resources to accelerate the growth of these unique and profitable businesses and capitalize on the growing demand for authentic and immersive adventure travel. These best-in-class companies are also united by a focus on nature and sustainability, and will benefit from Lindblad’s and Natural Habitat’s scale, resources, marketing experience and conservation leadership. 

DuVine is an award-winning international luxury cycling and adventure company based in Somerville, Massachusetts focused on providing immersive cultural experiences across the globe through thoughtfully designed itineraries led by expert local guides.  DuVine’s trips include top-quality gear and support and are tailored to riders of all abilities with emphasis on exceptional food and wine experiences, along with boutique accommodations.  DuVine also currently runs a variety of extraordinary trips that combine sail and biking experiences, which will be further expanded as part of Lindblad.  Founded in 1996 by Andy Levine, DuVine’s diverse tour offerings include small group and private custom trips to destinations across Europe, the United States, Latin America, Asia and Africa.  Mr. Levine will retain an ownership interest in DuVine and will continue as President and Chief Executive Officer of the new Lindblad subsidiary.

Off the Beaten Path, based in Bozeman, Montana, offers active small-group and private custom journeys around the world, with a long-standing focus on U.S. National Parks and connecting the heart of the traveler with the soul of the place through localized, authentic experiences.  Founded in 1986, Off the Beaten Path’s small group product offerings include unique expeditions throughout the U.S, as well as trips across Europe, Africa, Australia, Central and South America and the South Pacific.  Cory Lawrence, Off the Beaten Path’s President and Chief Executive Officer, will retain an ownership interest in Off the Beaten Path and continue in this role for the new Lindblad subsidiary.

“Bringing DuVine and Off the Beaten Path into our portfolio of brands will allow us to better serve a broader based clientele that has a diverse set of travel interests”, stated Sven Lindblad, President and CEO of Lindblad Expeditions.  “The high level of quality and integrity of both these companies makes them perfect partners in our strategy of expanding our platform of experiential offerings.  Our proven ability to leverage our platform and effectively cross market creates the opportunity to accelerate growth across our entire portfolio, and we will continue to look for additional opportunities to broaden and deepen our adventure travel offerings, both organically and through acquisitions, to aggregate larger audiences and generate greater lifetime value from our loyal guests.” 

Ben Bressler, Founder and President of Natural Habitat is enthusiastic about the joining of forces. “DuVine offers invigorating experiences in nature for our more active guests, and Off the Beaten Path’s exceptional depth in creating custom U.S. national park adventures will appeal to Nat Hab travelers,” Bressler stated.  “These two companies provide Lindblad and Nat Hab guests a depth of choice for premium life-enhancing travel experiences within a family of complementary brands – all driven by protecting our planet and inspiring travelers.” 

Andy Levine, DuVine’s Founder and President, stated  “I have long admired Lindblad for their exceptional expeditions and commitment to responsible travel, a core value that has also guided DuVine’s philosophy. Our companies share not only a desire to sustain the world’s most compelling cultures and communities, but also the belief that authentic, deeply rooted experiences make travel more fulfilling. DuVine’s journeys offer a new perspective grounded in active travel, local flavor, and an appreciation of nature from the seat of a bicycle. I can’t wait to introduce the transformative power of bike travel to a greater audience of adventure seekers.”

Cory Lawrence, Off the Beaten Path’s President, stated “We couldn’t be more excited to join Lindblad Expeditions and Natural Habitat Adventures to further our mission to change peoples’ lives through exceptional travel experiences. With our unique style of travel, strong domestic presence, and small group and bespoke travel design offerings, we are well-positioned to have immediate impact on the newly expanded family of companies. Expanding awareness of Off the Beaten Path and its unique offerings by leveraging the reach and expertise of both Lindblad and Natural Habitat is a major opportunity for our company in its 35th year of operation. We are thrilled!”

Lindblad Expeditions Holdings, Inc. is an expedition travel company that focuses on ship-based voyages through its Lindblad Expeditions brand and on land-based travel through its subsidiaries, Natural Habitat Adventures, Off the Beaten Path and DuVine Cycling and Adventure.

Lindblad Expeditions works in partnership with National Geographic to inspire people to explore and care about the planet. The organizations work in tandem to produce innovative marine expedition programs and to promote conservation and sustainable tourism around the world. The partnership’s educationally oriented voyages allow guests to interact with and learn from leading scientists, naturalists and researchers while discovering stunning natural environments, above and below the sea, through state-of-the-art exploration tools.

Natural Habitat Adventures partners with the World Wildlife Fund to offer and promote conservation and sustainable travel that directly protects nature. Natural Habitat’s adventures include polar bear tours in Churchill, Canada, Alaskan grizzly bear adventures and African safaris.

DuVine Cycling + Adventure Co. designs and leads luxury bike tours in the world’s most amazing destinations, from Italy’s sun-bleached villages and the medieval towns of Provence to Portugal’s Douro Valley and the vineyards of Napa, California. Guests bike, eat, drink, and sleep their way through these regions and many more while sampling the finest cuisine, hotels, and wine. 

Off the Beaten Path is an outdoor, active travel company offering guided small group adventures and private custom journeys that connect travelers with the wild nature and authentic culture of their destinations.  Off the Beaten Path’s trips extend across the globe, with a focus on exceptional national park experiences in the Rocky Mountains, Desert Southwest, and Alaska.

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Leading Tour Operators Associations Set Tourcare Guidelines to Insure, Safe, Exceptional Travel Experiences

Wilderness Voyageurs bike tour heads out through Badlands National Park, South Dakota. Leading tour operators associations in the US, Canada and Europe have issued Tourcare Guidelines to inspire consumer confidence and insure safe, exceptional travel experiences © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

NEW YORK  – Leading tour operator associations in the US, Canada, and Europe have collaborated on a set of health and sanitization guidelines specifically for their tour operator members called TOURCARE Guidelines for Tour Operators.

Developed by the Canadian Association of Tour Operators (CATO), the European Tourism Association (ETOA), and the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA), the guidelines establish recommended procedures for tour operators to provide protection for travelers against the transmission of COVID-19. The full set of TOURCARE Guidelines for Tour Operators can be found at https://ustoa.com/covid19/tour-care-guidelines.

With travel bans limiting international travel, travelers are discovering exotic, exciting experiences and places to explore within their own borders and relying on travel professionals more than ever to provide a safe travel experience.

In announcing the guidelines, USTOA President and CEO Terry Dale, ETOA Chief Executive Tom Jenkins, and CATO Executive Director Pierre LaPage said jointly: “By their very nature, tour products are complex, involving many different variables that are under the watchful eye of the tour operator, yet not every element fully under their control. We felt that our members – and the tour operator industry as a whole – would benefit from one set of guidelines developed with their specific needs top-of-mind. The TOURCARE Guidelines will help our tour operator members fulfill their mission to safeguard the health and wellbeing of their passengers while continuing to provide exceptional travel experiences in destinations around the world.”

The TOURCARE Guidelines provide direction for tour operators across all touch-points of a trip – staff, suppliers, and passengers – to ensure that health and sanitization protections are in place for each stakeholder and the communities visited. Sanitization procedures recommended are those issued by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC), and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), as well as local governmental health authorities.

The guidelines include measures for training and sanitization for staff in contact with passengers while traveling, such as outfitting each with appropriate personal protection equipment and promoting physical distancing. 

Tour operators are encouraged to work with suppliers who comply with local health and government authority requirements, as well as employ touch-less solutions for ticketing and processing wherever possible.

Because travel is a shared experience, passengers, too, have certain responsibilities. TOURCARE Guidelines recommend that tour operators ask passengers to disclose their COVID-19 exposure prior to departure and agree to adhere to all recommended and required health and sanitization procedures including wearing of masks, gloves, and social distancing where appropriate.

Each association has shared the TOURCARE Guidelines with all tour operator members, along with the “TC” logo as a mark of compliance to display as appropriately on websites and other communication with suppliers, passengers, and travel advisors.

For more information on USTOA, visit www.ustoa.com; CATO at cato.ca, and ETOA at etoa.org.

Representing nearly $19 billion in revenue, the member companies of U.S. Tour Operators Association provide tours, packages and custom arrangements that allow 9.8 million travelers annually unparalleled access, insider knowledge, peace-of-mind, value and freedom to enjoy destinations and experiences across the entire globe. Each member company has met the travel industry’s highest standards, including participation in the USTOA’s Travelers Assistance Program, which protects consumer payments up to $1 million if the company goes out of business.  As a voice for the tour operator industry for more than 40 years, USTOA also provides education and assistance for consumers and travel agents.

CATO, the Canadian Association of Tour Operators represents the most respected companies with offices in Canada, operating tour programs and packages from Canada to international destinations, trans-border as well as inbound to Canada and intra-Canada.

The Association is composed of like-minded tour companies – represented by their owners and senior executives who speak not only for their respective companies, but just as importantly, for the industry.

ETOA is the trade association for tour operators and suppliers in European destinations, from global brands to local independent businesses. The membership includes tour and online operators, intermediaries and wholesalers, European tourist boards, hotels, attractions, technology companies and other tourism and business service providers.

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Austin Adventures Facilitates Vacations in America’s Over-Popular National Parks

Hiking up the Mist Trail alongside Vernal Falls in Yosemite National Park. National parks are ideal for summer family vacations, so much so, they are overrun. Tour operator like Austin Adventures not only has hotel space, but can facilitate the visit to minimize crowds © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Last year, a record setting 331 million people visited a national park in the U.S.  2015 had earlier set the record at 307 million visitors. Over the last two years there has been a 13 percent visitor increase overall. This is a trend that experts say is here to stay.

The good news is that more and more people are enjoying America’s “best idea.” The downside is that roads, pull-overs and entrance stations are more crowded than ever, parking is hard to find, campgrounds are booked full by noon, restaurant reservations are difficult to secure and for those waiting too long to book lodging, there’s no room left at the inn.

Because vacation time is too precious for such factors as frustration and anxiety, advance vacation planning that includes putting a professional tour operator in charge of the logistics can help buy peace of mind and a better overall experience.

“When a national park is in the equation, a good tour company can give you the kind of quality park vacation that just might not be possible on your own,” said Dan Austin, President of Austin Adventures, a leader in family-focused, multisport vacations here and abroad.

Austin’s company offers a good reason of why one should consider a tour operator for a national park vacation. “We have stayed ahead of the growth curve by adding capacity and trip departures. We also work hard to block the best rooms inside a park, a year or more in advance.” This is an investment (and risk) to the tour operator, having to secure everything so far into the future. But in Austin Adventures’ case, it has been a winning strategy.

Where an individual or family may find frustration going it on their own, booking through an operator can make the process pain-free. A tour operator has the rooms, the restaurant reservations and sightseeing logistics all worked out. They alleviate parking woes by dropping guests off at a trailhead and picking them up at a different spot later. They can also avoid the masses because they know where the crowds aren’t as well as the best times to be there (on Austin’s Yellowstone Park trips they often avoid the crowds at Old Faithful by visiting at sunrise – a short walk from their lodge).

“Guests benefit from our expertise, ‘insider’s knowledge and long-standing park connections,” Austin said.

Tour operators know the area, inside and outside the park, as well as the best places to stay, eat, view wildlife, etc. They have highly trained guides who are focused on customer service, safety and security, as well as having fun, said Rick Hoeninghausen, Director of Sales & Marketing for Yellowstone National Park Lodges.

Quality tour operators often build in special touches that enhance the experience for their guests. For example, Austin Adventures will surprise their guests with fresh made ice cream and fruit parfaits served along the hiking trail.

Some of Austin Adventures’ most popular National Park family itineraries include Yellowstone Family Adventure, Yosemite National Park Multisport, Grand Canyon Family Vacation & Tour, and the Bryce and Zion National Park Tour in Utah. For information on all of the company’s National Park adventures, see: http://www.austinadventures.com/national-park-vacations/

Based in Billings, MT, Austin Adventures has spent more than 40 years building an international reputation as a top provider of luxury, pre-set and custom-designed small group tours for adults and families to the world’s most captivating destinations. In 2013, Austin Adventures joined the Xanterra Parks & Resorts® portfolio of experiential leisure offerings that includes operations in Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Zion, Crater Lake, Glacier, Rocky Mountain and Petrified Forest National Parks; Mount Rushmore National Memorial; Furnace Creek Resort in Death Valley National Park; and five Ohio State Park Lodges as well as the Geneva Marina at Ohio’s Geneva State Park. Xanterra Parks & Resorts also owns and operates Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, Va., the Grand Canyon Railway and Hotel in Williams, Ariz., the Grand Hotel in Tusayan, Ariz., Windstar Cruises, VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations, Country Walkers and Austin Adventures.

For information on Austin Adventures, www.austinadventures.com, call 800-575-1540 or email info@austinadventures.com.

 

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USTOA Members Offer Travelers Access to UNESCO World Heritage Sites Around the Globe

UNESCO World Heritage Site, Rapa Nui National Park (photo credit: Zegrahm Expeditions)
UNESCO World Heritage Site, Rapa Nui National Park
(photo credit: Zegrahm Expeditions)

NEW YORK—Members of the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) offer travelers ease of access to UNESCO World Heritage Sites around the globe. From well-known sites such as Stonehenge and Victoria Falls, to unparalleled access to places like Iran’s historic cities of Pasargadae and Persepolis, USTOA members continue to recognize the importance of these sites and include them in packaged travel options for travelers across the world. UNESCO showcases and protects the world’s most cherished cultural and natural wonders while adding new World Heritage Sites to the prestigious list each year. This year’s World Heritage Committee decision to add 24 culturally significant sites brings the list total to 1,031 sites throughout 163 countries.

“By including UNESCO World Heritage Sites in their itineraries, USTOA members offer travelers a exceptional way to experience some of the world’s most fascinating and bucket list worthy sites,” said USTOA President and CEO Terry Dale. “Each year our members are excited to learn about new inductions and look for ways to include them in future expeditions.”

Following is a sample of USTOA member tour operators offering a chance to explore UNESCO World Heritage Sites around the globe.

  • Rapa Nui, better known as Easter Island, is home to an impressive cultural landscape and intriguing Polynesian history. Zegrahm Expeditions offers explorers a 20-day journey from Tahiti to Easter Island to experience Rapa Nui National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, during its “Tahiti to Easter Island: Marquesas, Tuamotus & Pitcairns” trip. Travelers discover the shrines and ancient figures, known as moai, built by the Polynesian society who settled on Rapa Nui around 300 AD. This tropical vacation also offers stunning views of volcanoes and the chance to snorkel amid vibrant reefs. Available November 5, 2017 from $19,980 per person.
  • Alexander + Roberts is bringing travelers to Iran for unparalleled access to 11 of Iran’s 19 UNESCO World Heritage Sites during the “Persian Moments Private” itinerary. During this 13-day private tour, guests will visit the only bazaar in the world recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site, as well as discover Pasargadae and Persepolis, cities of the Achaemenid Empire. Available in 2017 and 2018.
  • Guests on African Travel Inc.’s 10-day “Southern Explorer” tour will hike alongside the mighty Victoria Falls, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Other highlights include dining in the home of a local Capetonian family, discovering breathtaking scenery at the Cape of Good Hope and searching for the “Big Five.” Available throughout 2016, prices start at $3,895 per person.
  • Adventures by Disney’s “Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos Family Vacation” visits three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Angkor Archeological Park, the world’s largest religious monument; Luang Prabang, a town with rich architectural and artistic heritage; and Hoi An, an ancient trading port. Starting at $5,599 per person and available June through August 2016 with more departures in December, the adventure is rounded out by a Tuk-Tuk Temple Treasure Hunt, cooking class and an interactive experience with a Tai-Chi Master.
  • During Globus’ “The Best of Southern England” seven-day tour, guests get the chance to visit some of the most recognizable UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Stonehenge, the City of Bath, Westminster Palace, Westminster Abbey and Saint Margaret’s Church. Historical and beautiful, this trip starts at $1,549 per person land only.

For further inspirations or to search for dream travel itineraries and destinations, visit www.ustoa.com/dream.

For questions and more information on USTOA, visit www.ustoa.com, call 212-599-6599, or email information@ustoa.com. 

Representing more than $13.5 billion in revenue, the member companies of U.S. Tour Operators Association provide tours, packages and custom arrangements that allow nearly 8 million travelers annually unparalleled access, insider knowledge, peace-of-mind, value and freedom to enjoy destinations and experiences across the entire globe.   Each member company has met the travel industry’s highest standards, including participation in the USTOA’s Travelers Assistance Program, which protects consumer payments up to $1 million if the company goes out of business.  As a voice for the tour operator industry for more than 40 years, USTOA also provides education and assistance for consumers and travel agents.

 

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