African Travel 'DreamScape' package aimed at saving time, money

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LOS ANGELES -- African Travel created a DreamScape package to South Africa aimed at appealing to travelers with limited time.

The nine-night package features Cape Town and Victoria Falls.

It also offers visitors a chance to explore the two destinations at prices designed to "catch their attention," according to African Travel president and founder David Herbert.

"I cribbed the idea for DreamScape from watching what our colleagues are doing in Australia with one-week trips to Sydney and the Great Barrier Reef," Herbert said.

"The challenge we have in marketing Africa is overcoming the perception that it is very far away, that it takes a long time to visit and that it is very expensive," he added.

The DreamScape package is priced from $1,999 per person, double, including air, with departures available weekly through September.

"The other thing is that we didn't want to cut corners. Africa is a destination for an upscale market, and we chose what we think are the best accommodations in both places," Herbert said.

The hotels used are the Table Bay Hotel in Cape Town, which won a Conde Nast Traveler's Readers Choice award in 2000, and the Zambezi Sun in Victoria Falls.

As to the choice of the product name, Herbert said, "Our thinking was that people go to Africa to live a dream."

Victoria Falls is a destination highlighted in African Travel's South Africa DreamScape package. He said that while African programs typically tend to be safaris targeting older travelers with plenty of time, disposable income and travel experience, the DreamScape itineraries were designed to attract younger professionals and first-time visitors.

"One-third of our business is repeat and we want to get new people in the door," he said of the company, which has been in business since 1976 and is part of Far & Wide Travel Corp.

The irony of the program, however, according to Herbert, is that most clients, initially attracted by the short duration and low price, have been extending the itinerary with optional add-ons.

Herbert said he chose Cape Town and Victoria Falls because they are both icons in the minds of most travelers with regard to Africa and allow visitors to explore in depth without having to keep moving, as is the case with traditional safaris.

"Cape Town is one of the top destinations in southern Africa, and I think of it as a cross between San Francisco and Rio [de Janeiro, Brazil]," he said.

Located between the Indian and Atlantic oceans, Cape Town also is a good base from which to explore the surrounding area, Herbert said.

"The journey around the cape is spectacular, and there are excursions and outings available every day to other areas," he noted.

Attractions around the cape include whale watching and penguin viewing as well as spring flowers in season.

Participants can visit Table Mountain, take a motorcoach to the Cape Winelands in about 40 minutes for wine tastings or explore the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, all for $29 per person.

Evening cruises on the Zambezi River are available for $55.

"While people can book ahead, we encourage them to book excursions when they are there for maximum flexibility," Herbert said.

In Cape Town itself, there are some stage show and concert opportunities as well as "exceptional dining at very inexpensive prices," he said.

Calling Victoria Falls "one of the natural wonders of the world," Herbert described the site as Niagara Falls "without the urban landscape."

"One can see the falls from both sides of the Zambezi, and there is a national park, a heritage site and a rain forest," he said, adding, "The falls are very much still the way Livingston discovered them."

Herbert pointed out that the falls also make a good base from which to commence excursions to the national parks for game viewing.

While in favor of travel agents taking a proactive approach to selling Africa, Herbert said it is one destination that requires a great deal of consumer advertising to get the ball rolling.

"The client has to initiate the interest, which is when the travel agent can take over for us and make the sale," he said.

For additional information about African Travel, call (800) 727-7207 or (818) 507-7893; fax (818) 507-5802, or visit the Web site at www.africantravelinc.com.

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