Audley Travel introduces Rome as first short-haul destination

Audley Travel is to offer Italy from next year – its first short-haul destination.

The upmarket, tailor made specialist, known in the trade for Southeast Asia as well as India and Japan, said the move was a result of customer demand for the destination and said Italy would be “the first of many European destinations” it hoped to offer in future.

Chief executive Ian Simkins, who becomes a non-executive director next year, said: “You know Audley as a long-haul tailormade travel company but the exciting news is that we are going to be launching Italy, our first short-haul destination for our UK clients. Last year two-thirds of clients surveyed said they wanted Italy as a destination through Audley.”

The operator, which recently appointed former Tui UK managing director Nick Longman as chief operating officer, who will take over as chief executive from January, has produced a dedicated Italy brochure, featuring 12 sample itineraries.

Simkins said the focus would continue to be on offering travel expertise and immersive, personalised experiences in destination, whether it’s a truffle tour in Tuscany or training to be a gladiator at the Colosseum in Rome.

Other Italy product offered, from spring next year, will include meeting artisans in Florence and learning to cook like a local, hiking coastal paths on the Amalfi coast with an expert historian and botanist, and touring the boutiques of Milan with an expert shopper.

Head of product Alex Bentley added: “We won’t be going after the Rome city break market.”

The operator is also launching a raft of other new products for 2019, including reworked Route 66 itineraries, luxury itineraries in New Zealand and Australia and new accommodation in Cambodia.

It has also announced cruise will be a key focus for 2019 with new ships in Antarctica and French Polynesia.

There will be cruises offered on three new ships: Ocean Expeditions’ RCGS Resolute launching this year; Aurora Expeditions’ Greg Mortimer and Oceanside Expeditions’ Hondius, both launching late next year.

New experiences are also being offered, such as tours in China with an 83 year old guide who was one of the farmers who discovered the Terracotta Army.

The company has also pledged to reduce its plastic consumption by distributing branded, sustainable bottles for clients in resort. This will be trialled initially in 15 destinations.

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