Leading European small group tour operator Back-Roads Touring has announced record growth in passenger numbers for its continental Europe tours.
General manager Brad John-Davis said numbers had doubled on Back-Roads’ French and Italian programs this summer.
“We’ve seen 100 per cent year-on-year growth in numbers on our La Belle France and Italian Indulgence tours, which is proof both of the growing popularity of the Back-Roads’ small group touring concept and of the increasing demand for experiential itineraries in continental Europe,” he said.
“Back-Roads’ use of small, 16-seater coaches allows our guides to access small villages and sites that are off the beaten track and that larger coach companies miss out.”
But while Italy and France were booming, Mr John-Davis said numbers for UK and Ireland tours over July and August were lower than normal.
“The Olympic Games in London this year have slowed growth on UK and Ireland programs and many of our UK tours around the Games will not run this year,” Mr John-Davis said.
“Generally other cities worldwide which have hosted the Games have experienced a drop in general tourism arrivals as people seek to avoid the Olympic crowds.
“But the good news is that we expect next year to show strong growth both in the UK/Ireland and on the continent as a result of the incredible media exposure from the Olympics as well as the Queen’s Jubilee.”
Mr John-Davis said Back-Roads would still carry a significant number of passengers in the UK this year. Its most popular tour, Corners of Cornwall, “is as good as sold out all season”, he said.
“Our Heart of England and Scottish Journey programs are still doing relatively well this year too,” Mr John-Davis said.
“We have some seats available on UK tours either side of the Olympics as well as places on our Ireland tours in July and August, so anyone wanting to visit the UK or Ireland this summer should contact Back-Roads.”
Some places are also still available on France, Italy and Spain tours.
“London will of course be busier than usual in July this year but it’s very much business as usual across the rest of the continent,” Mr John-Davis said.
Back-Roads caters to mature travellers and offers small group tours across England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, France, Italy and Spain.
It also operates battlefield tours in France, Turkey and Germany.