europe straight up and downby Jasmine O’Donoghue

Travel in Europe is heading to the extreme, with the Nordic regions, Spain, and Portugal going berserk with bookings.

Whether motivated by world events, or simply on the merit of Iceland’s spectacular Blue Lagoon or Porto’s majestic architecture, troves of travellers are making their way to these regions.

Insight Vacations has witnessed business dropping in areas like Turkey and Egypt and popping up in other regions.

“By no means is Turkey a dead destination, we still carry a very large number of people to that destination but the loss that you can see is immediately replaced with destinations like Spain Portugal and Scandinavia,” says Insight Vacations CEO, John Boulding.

“It’s not necessarily true that people are turned off but some people are choosing to go to these other destinations.” Insight Vacations has capitalised on this growth with the introduction of a seven-day Scenic Iceland & The Northern Lights tour.

“Iceland is really geared for winter, that’s what they do best. There’s the hot pools, the blue lagoon and the geological wonder of these great waterfalls, and scenic delight, along with the main attraction which is the northern lights,” Boulding says.

The opportunity extends to agents Boulding says, who he urges to “push hard” on Europe.

“The euro is not a strong currency at the moment so it’s not as though it’s moved too far away from the par with what was the Australian dollar a little while ago so it’s still very good value in Europe, especially if you’ve prepaid.”

That opportunity is not going unnoticed by other tour operators, with Back-Roads Touring launching the eight-day ‘Essence of Iceland’ in its latest brochure for UK and Europe.

“For us, it’s really about taking people where they want to go and I think whilst we have fantastic numbers on our core tours…there has been a little bit of a change in recent years, with people looking for something beyond that,” says Hazel McGuire, Back Roads Touring General Manager.

“It’s about breaking away from those traditional European countries – while France is still growing massively – we’re looking into those locations that leading up to even 10 years ago, there was still a little trepidation to be visiting, whether they be Visa difficulties or what have you. It’s really about opening up Europe a little bit wider and just showing people places they haven’t been before.”

This is echoed by Steve Odell, Senior Vice President and Managing Director Asia Pacific at Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, who sees the traveller in Europe looking for more smaller ports and more intimate choices.

“The Baltic is having a very good year, cruises out of Copenhagen up to St Petersburg are doing really well. I think people want a mix of culture as well as nice relaxing resorts with beaches,” Odell says.

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