Explore, the adventure travel specialist, have predicted the key travel trends for the coming year and there is plenty to look forward to with 114 new tours departing in 2015 including off the beaten track destinations and exciting new travel adventures.
HOT DESTINATIONS FOR 2015
Ashley Toft, Managing Director of Explore “Cuba looks set for change following talks between American President Barack Obama and Cuban leader, Raul Castro, so now is the time to visit. Whilst it may take a while for Congress to agree to lift sanctions, there will be a surge of interest from people wanting to see the ‘real Cuba’ before that change happens. I think Cuba will have a record year.”
Top of Cuba’s hotspots is Santiago de Cuba, celebrating its 500 year anniversary; the former capital of Cuba will come alive in 2015 with a festival of celebrations on the town’s vibrant Spanish colonial streets.
Explore’s Cuba Libre! 15 day tour explores the island's revolutionary history and its modern, exotic Caribbean culture. Staying in Casas Particulares, customers get a real taste of Cuba, travelling through dramatic countryside, from verdant rainforests to volcanic mountains, and along spectacular coastlines. The tour also visits the colonial towns of Trinidad, Havana, Santiago de Cuba. Costing from £1,769 per person, this 15 day tour includes return flights; 14 nights’ accommodation; some other meals; transport; and the service of a tour leader, driver and local guides.
Last year Bhutan attracted a record number of visitors thanks to its unspoiled landscape and Buddhist culture which encourages spiritual and mental well-being, the government even measures the Gross National Happiness of the nation.
Explore’s 12 day Land of the Dragon tour journeys from the peaceful monasteries and temples of Bhutan to the jagged Himalayan mountains and deep valleys on the lookout for black-necked cranes and Himalayan black beers. The tour stops at Thimphu, the capital city to explore the sights as well as spending two days at Bhutan’s annual Paro festival. Costing from £3,752 per person this 12 day tour includes return flights; 11 nights’ hotel all with breakfast; lunch and dinner meals; transport; and the service of a tour leader, driver and local guides.
Vietnam has emerged as the new tourist destination in Southeast Asia, with visitor numbers significantly increasing year on year. Vietnam is both vibrant and diverse with Chinese and French colonial influences and serene landscape of paddy fields, rivers, bays, beaches and mountains. This is all set against a dramatic and bloody history and 2015 is a poignant time to visit as it marks the 40th anniversary of the ending of the war and the 20th of normalization with the United States.
Explore’s Hilltribes of the North12 day moderate walking tour visits remote tribal villages in the mountainous back country of northern Vietnam. Staying in traditional village houses, the trek travels through beautiful rice paddies of Sapa and Ban Lac, experiencing the culture, customs and cuisine of the friendly hill tribes and staying in traditional houses. A trip to Northern Vietnam would not be complete without a cruise to the incredible limestone landscape of Halong bay, staying overnight on a traditional junk boat. The trip ends in Hanoi, the bustling capital of Vietnam, which is brimming with character and charm from its French inspired boulevards and faded colonial buildings to its tree-fringed lakes and ancient pagodas. Costing from £1,499 per person this 12 day tour includes return flights; 11 nights’ accommodation and some meals; transport; and the service of a tour leader, driver, boat crew and local guides.
Russia is proving a popular destination for 2015 with a significant increase in bookings thanks to the devaluation of the rouble making it exceptionally good value.
Explore has unveiled Kaliningrad as a new destination to its 2015/16 short-breaks portfolio. The Russian exclave which borders Poland and Lithuania offers customers a chance to get under the skin of this little known region which only opened to visitors 20 years ago. Customers will be able to enjoy the interesting mix of historical and modern architecture, discover its history of Germanisation and colonisation and explore the beautiful scenery of the Baltic Coast.
Explore’s Kaliningrad Short Break provides customers with a five day tour to a Russian exclave. Customers will spend time exploring the sights in the city of Kaliningrad, including Victory Square and Konigsberg Cathedral; journey to Curonian Spit National Park and uncover the bizarre natural phenomenon where the pine trees are twisted into loops and stroll on the beautiful beaches of the Baltic Coast in Svetlogorsk. Customers will also venture into Poland. Costing from £739per person this five day tour includes return flights; 4 nights’ accommodation on a bed and breakfast basis transport and the services of a tour leader and driver.
Cycling continues to grow with group cycling tours to destinations such as Burma, Morocco and India expected to do especially well with increased sales of 30% year on year. Self-guided cycling is also really taking off and new tours in Austria, Croatia, Italy and Germany are predicted to trade strongly.
Explore’s eight dayPuglia on Two Wheelsis an easy graded cycle tour visiting the Puglia region in Italy. On this journey, customers will pedal along quiet provincial roads, allowing time to stop off and sample some of the local delicacies such as Primitivo wine, mozzarella di bufala and fresh antipasti. In between the food and wine, customers can bike through Alta Murgia National Park, the Adriatic coastline and visit the ancient town of the 'Sassi', a prehistoric troglodyte settlement in Matera. Tours depart in April, May, September and October 2015 and cost from £1,166 per person, to include flights; seven nights’ hotel accommodation on a bed and breakfast basis; bike hire; transport and the services of a tour leader and driver.
After a tough few years, the Family Adventures market is coming back strongly which will be boosted in 2015 by the abolition of Air Departure Tax for children. More families are taking a ‘trip of a lifetime’ once the teenagers have finished their GCSEs, and this is set to continue. This trend has helped increase passengers to exotic destinations such as Cambodia, Botswana and Nicaragua.
Perfect for avid Star Wars fans, Explore has introduced a new Family Tunisian Adventuretour, visiting the film locations and spending a night in a cave hotel. During the tour customers will visit the largest Roman amphitheatre in the world, learn how to cook a traditional Bedouin meal and complete an aerial adventure rope course. The tour includes a visit to For Port El Kantaoui, Tunisia's largest water theme park and a trip to the beach to snorkel around Ghdams Island. This tour departs in July, August and September 2015. Explore offers nine day tour Family Tunisian Adventure from £1,095 per person. The price includes return flights; eight nights’ hotel accommodation on a bed and breakfast basis; most meals included, transport and the services of a tour leader and driver.
Ashley Toft, Managing Director of Explore, states “This year is set to be an exciting year for adventure travel and we have worked hard at Explore to incorporate as many new exciting destinations, unique personal experiences, unusual activities and different types of accommodation and transport (Explore ‘Twists’) into our 2015 trips as possible.”
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For further information, or to book, visit www.explore.co.uk or call 01252 884723.
Notes to editors
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