Q&A | Belinda Ward | Antarctica and the Arctic
Adventure travel pioneer G Adventures offer trips to Antarctica and the Arctic. Here, Belinda Ward, managing director, G Adventures Australia and New Zealand shares her insights on the polar regions with travelBulletin.
How important are polar trips to the G Adventures portfolio?
G Adventures polar tours are central to our business and commitment to sensitively introduce travellers to some of the world’s most remote and wonderful natural locations. We fully own and operate our polar expedition cruise ship called G Expedition which means we have full control over the quality, service and itineraries in a way that many other tour operators don’t. The polar portfolio is particularly crucial to our business in Australia and New Zealand where we sell approximately 40 per cent of the global polar inventory. Operating trips to polar regions also means that we can offer our travellers a full range of product on all seven continents.
What is the appeal of trips to the Arctic and Antarctic?
Antarctica is often seen as the final frontier in travel, and often the seventh continent ticked off travellers’ bucket lists. You typically see seasoned, rather than first-time travellers venturing to Antarctica and the Arctic. When I find myself talking about trips to Antarctica I often feel like I am doing it an injustice as it exceeds all expectations. The Arctic is also very popular amongst Australians, in particular the search for polar bears.
How tough does the drop in value of the AUD make selling such trips?
The softening Australian dollar is not having a significant impact on polar expedition sales or for adventure travel generally. Our type of travellers tend to be those who seek out life experiences, and often money can be secondary to having that life-changing adventure. There is a very small window each year for when people can visit either of the polar regions, so our travellers don’t like missing out.
Are they good value for money?
Not all polar expeditions have to come at a significant cost to a traveller. I’ve read a lot of feedback from travellers on our polar trips, and have never heard anyone say that they have not received value for money on these trips. For most people, this is a once in a lifetime experience. When you consider that all meals, entertainment and excursions are included, the cost per day price is great value for money.