The Appeal of the Authentic

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These three enticing destinations in Asia, Africa & the South Pacific are a fascinating slice of the tourism pie for clients seeking out authentic travel.

Picture-Perfect New Zealand
“New Zealand is enjoying demand that is off the charts,” says Emma Cottis, general manager, marketing, Goway Travel. And it’s ideal for clients looking for a less-crowded tourist destination, adds Shirley Rourke, general manager of Goway’s Downunder. “Those visiting New Zealand can count on finding a lot of really open and beautiful landscapes. New Zealand has some 4.4 million people, a sharp contrast with Japan, which is a similar size, but is home to 126 million residents.”

That said, these landscapes are not completely unknown to travelers thanks to their role on the big screen. “The movie industry has been a major force in raising awareness of New Zealand’s spectacular and diverse countryside, from the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy, ‘The Hobbit’ trilogy, the ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ and most recently, ‘Pete’s Dragon,’” points out Cottis.

When you’re booking your clients on a New Zealand itinerary make sure to include Queenstown, as the stunning scenery will definitely leave them mesmerized, as will a cruise on Milford Sound, surrounded by majestic fjords; and tours of the wine country,  and the aforementioned sights depicted in blockbuster movies. Rourke adds that in New Zealand there’s an activity for everyone, whether it’s bungee jumping, ziplining, jet boating, or a ride up on a gondola for views of Lake Wakatipu and the Southern Alps.

“New Zealand is a hot ticket. Booking in advance is 100 percent necessary so as not to be disappointed,” says Rourke. Cottis adds that February, in particular, is considered high season, so encourage your clients to book early in order to secure preferred accommodations, or consider booking in October or November to enjoy the summer weather.

Recommend Goway’s 10-day Out and About tour (starting at $1,789 pp), which highlights the best of New Zealand.

Enthralling Ethiopia
Alexander+Roberts has been taking travelers to Ethiopia for two years with its 12-day Adventures in Ethiopia itinerary (starting at $5,499 pp dbl). According to the operator’s president Bob Drumm, “Africa is certainly becoming more of an interest to travelers; and Ethiopia, because of its tribal cultures, has a particular appeal to people.” Drumm notes that the company’s Photography Adventures with Scott Davis tour recently returned, adding that “this journey had been timed with the bull jumping—it’s the same itinerary we operate other times, but Scott goes along to help them capture the village life, the textiles, the dress of various tribes. Next year, the photography-focused expedition is scheduled to depart on Oct. 18 (starting at $6,899 pp dbl), visiting the Omo Valley in the southern area where bull jumping occurs, and where the tribal character is best preserved in Ethiopia,” he says. “People are looking for more experiential, more engaging travel opportunities to unusual places that aren’t filled with tourists—that’s one thing we note; where there’s still the opportunity to have an authentic travel experience without being in a mass tourism type of context.

“We hear that from people, that they’re grateful to see places that haven’t been touched by mass tourism. So that’s what we’re seeing in the growth of interest to Ethiopia….” The unique culture, however, might not be the only appeal of this exotic destination. As Drumm notes, “Ethiopia also has excellent air service. It’s easy to get to. Emirates, for example, has a very easy connection out of Dubai; also, Ethiopian Airlines operates out of Washington nonstop. It’s a long way, but with nonstops and easy connections it opens up a lot of access to the United States.”

Cultural Japan
Asia, overall, has had strong bookings for 2016, according to Mark Grundy, managing director of Asia at Avanti Destinations. However, he notes, that “Japan has been a huge success in 2016 with very strong bookings in Tokyo, Hakone, Kyoto and Hiroshima.” Thus, Avanti has expanded its hotel selections and inventory in those cities to satisfy the growing demand they are seeing for 2017. “In addition, we have added exciting new destinations in the southwest of Japan—Nagasaki and Fukuoka. The sales of the Japan Rail Pass have been steadily increasing, which is proof that travelers and agents both recognize that Japan’s excellent rail system is the most effective and enjoyable way to travel through Japan.”

On Avanti’s 9-day Japan Essentials itinerary, guests will hopscotch from Tokyo, to Hakone, Kyoto and Osaka, taking the rail between cities. Call for rates.

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