NEW YORK -- A new marketing venture partially funded by the
European Union is promoting off-the-beaten-track regions of
cultural significance in England, France and Holland.
The entity, called Exporting Cultural Heritage Overseas (ECHO),
makes available to agents a series of suggested itineraries to help
point clients to less-celebrated but culturally rich areas in the
three countries, Judith Steegmans, project leader, said. Detailed
itineraries are listed on ECHO's Web site at
Retailers make all the bookings necessary for an itinerary, such
as air, transfers and car rentals. "Basically, we act as advisers
to travel agents," Steegmans said, adding that there is no fee for
The spotlighted regions encompass the French-Norman cities of Le
Havre and Cherbourg; the English south coast cities of Poole,
Bournemouth, Portsmouth and Southampton, and the Golden Circle
region of Holland, including Flevoland. Steegmans said this
"trinational partnership," which has financial backing from the
tourism authorities in each of the three countries as well as from
the European Union, "is rare because competition is so high."
The initiative came about after tourism representatives of the
three countries realized that although many U.S. veterans of World
War II have ties to these areas, the cultural-heritage market is
fading and younger generations need to be targeted, she said. "Our
suggested special-interest itineraries are designed for independent
travelers who want to focus on culture, history, art, architecture
and many other uniting themes," Steegmans told Travel Weekly. For
example, the American Trail itinerary covers links to wartime
England's south coast, Normandy and Flevoland. Other itineraries
cover more general interests, such as gardens.
In addition to suggesting itineraries, ECHO recommends overnight
accommodations and will assist retailers in obtaining net rates
from hoteliers, said Steegmans.
Brochures can be ordered from the British Tourist Authority,
(800) 462-2748, or from the Western France Tourist Board, (202)
ECHO, based in Lelystad, Holland, can be reached by calling
(011) 31-320 282-800; fax (011) 31-320 258-080, or e-mail [email protected].