NEW YORK -- Traditionally, fall foliage tours are huge sellers for
tour operators. But 2002 is a very different year.
While traditional fall tours bookings are lagging, some
operators are reporting a few fall foliage successes.
Leading the pack is Summerlin, Nev.-based Maupintour, which said
it has had a healthy response to a new program added this year, a
fall foliage cruise-tour combination in partnership with Silversea
"We're pleasantly surprised," said April Merenda, vice president
of sales and marketing at Maupintour. "We're finding a lot of
people this year are interested in cruising so we offered the
opportunity to see the fall foliage along the New England
The Grand Fall Foliage Cruise -- which combines one night each
at the Sofitel New York and Montreal's Fairmont Queen Elizabeth
Hotel with an 11-night cruise of New England -- is aimed at making
up for diminished interest in what is traditionally Maupintour's
most popular fall foliage itinerary, the nine-night, escorted New
The ship calls in Providence, R.I.; Boston; Bar Harbor, Maine;
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island; and Gaspe Peninsula and Quebec
City, Quebec, with optional shore excursions in each port.
The package is priced at $6,795 per person, double. Bookings made
with deposits by the end of August receive a $250 shipboard
Maupintour's traditional fall foliage tours, however, have
struggled, according to product manager Bruce Murdoch. The
post-Sept. 11 late-booking trend may be a factor in keeping
early-booking numbers down, he said.
The same is true at Mayflower Tours, where the most popular fall
foliage program -- the New England and Cape Cod tour -- is behind
its usual booking performance, according to John Stachnik,
president of the Downers Grove, Ill.-based operator, largely
because the firm's Midwestern clientele is reluctant to fly into
"Our New York, Boston and Washington gateways are not doing as
well this year," he said. "We still have plenty of people, but not
near the record numbers we used to have.
"We get 36% of our [overall] business in the months of September
and October," he said, but New England is the company's bread and
butter when it comes to foliage programs.
Rick Baron, national sales director of Tauck World Discovery,
said the reluctance to fly also is affecting the international
market that usually boosts the firm's foliage tour business.
Meanwhile, Northeast operators seem to be having a little more
Joan Molloy, senior vice president of marketing for Trafalgar
Tours, said bookings for foliage tours are strong, and she believes
the drive market is fueling the New York firm's Northeastern
New England-based Collette Vacations is experiencing relatively
healthy demand for its five fall foliage itineraries, according to
the company's chief financial officer, John Galvin. The program
that is thriving the most uses the Providence, R.I., gateway near
Collette's headquarters in Pawtucket.
"For us, farther away is more of a challenge," Galvin said.
"People seem to want to stay a little closer to home."
Book it: Leaf peeping tours
Phone: (800) 717-9191
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Tauck World Discovery
Phone: (800) 468-2825
Phone: (800) 854-0103