BERKELEY, Calif. -- Backroads, the biking and hiking tour
specialist, is "hunkering down" to weather the unpredictability of
the travel business in the coming months, said Tom Hale, company
president. The firm, one of the largest specializing in active
vacations, is well-positioned because it's always had an extensive
series of North America departures.
"With our strong North America trip selection and with strategic
management of our international offering, we're confident we'll
successfully weather the storm," Hale said in a statement. As
reported, to stimulate business Backroads is paying agents 15%
commission through Dec. 31.
A company spokeswoman said Backroads' bookings are gaining strength
but are nonetheless down from their 2000 levels. "Our schedule has
lots of capacity right now, and we expect to run perhaps 70% to 80%
of our departures" in 2002 because minimum participant levels might
not be reached, she said. "We want to offer as much variety as
possible to start, and then prune over the course of the year" as
clear booking patterns emerge.
Those booking patterns are expected to be heavy for North
America, and the changes Backroads has made reflect those
projections. The company has canceled biking trips to Turkey and
walking trips in Nepal. It has trimmed departures for Bali, Morocco
Backroads also delayed the launch of multisports trips to Nepal;
India; Malta; Sicily, Italy, and Bordeaux, France; walking trips to
Tibet, and biking trips to the Czech Republic and Austria. In early
2002, the firm expects to reevaluate start-up plans for those trips
and, as it monitors consumer response to world events and the
travel climate, decide whether to proceed.
Backroads will go ahead with 18 of the 30 new trips it was
scheduled to start in 2002 -- a schedule set prior to the terrorist
attacks. They include six biking trips in France, Ireland, Italy,
Bali, New Zealand and China; two walking trips in Italy -- one
along the Amalfi Coast and the other in the Dolomites -- and 10
multisport programs in Morocco, Thailand, California, Washington,
Canada, Utah/Arizona Canyonlands and the low-country islands off
the coast of Georgia.
Some of the new trips in North America include:
• A five-day biking, walking and sea kayaking tour of the San
Juan Islands of Washington state, starting at $1,798 per person,
• A seven-day biking and hiking trip in Bryce, Zion and the
Grand Canyon, starting at $1,998 per person, double.
• A six-day biking, hiking and horseback-riding program in Zion
and the Grand Canyon, starting at $1,798 per person, double.
• A six-day biking, walking and kayaking tour in the Santa
Barbara, Calif., area, with accommodations at the Four Seasons
Biltmore, starting at $2,398 per person, double.
• A six-day biking and hiking trip to the low-country islands of
Amelia, Fla., and Cumberland and Little St. Simons off the coast of
Georgia, for $2,098 per person, double.
• A six-day biking and hiking program in Banff and Jasper
national parks in Canada, with stays at the Jasper Park Lodge and
the Chateau Lake Louise, starting at $1,998 per person, double.
For more information, contact Backroads at (800) 462-2848.