Operators respond to need for leisure in touring

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NEW YORK -- The new millennium is bringing with it a lineup of new tour categories created to meet the growing demand for multiple-day city stays.

"We're seeing a continuing trend of visitors' wanting to explore more on their own and get more in-depth experience," a Globus and Cosmos spokeswoman said.

A few operators have created new product classifications focusing on leisurely visits.

Following are some of the new options for 2000. Prices are land only, but many operators will arrange special air fares.

  • Trafalgar Tours has taken the trend by the reins and created a Europe at Leisure category, 10-day itineraries that concentrate on two cities and combine free time with guided tours of nearby towns.
  • The lakes in Killarney, Ireland, will be one of the rural sites visited in Globus and Cosmos' new Leisure Style program. The concept was sparked by customer and client requests as well as the growing popularity of the company's Free and Easy programs, according to Maureen Van Metter, marketing vice president at Trafalgar.

    The Free and Easy trips were started a few years ago and are independent itineraries with eight to 12 days split between London and Paris, some with a third-city option.

    The Europe at Leisure packages include two itineraries in Italy, one in Spain and one combining Vienna, Austria; Prague, Czech Republic, and Budapest, Hungary.

    The Rome and Tuscan Highlights itinerary spends two nights in Rome and six in Montacatini.

    The Milan and Italian Treasures package spends two nights in Milan and six at Lake Garda.

    In Spain, clients will spend two nights in Madrid, five in Seville and one in Toledo, with excursions to nearby towns.

    The Vienna, Prague and Budapest trip spends three nights in Prague and five in Vienna, with a day-trip to Budapest.

    Europe at Leisure prices start at $799.

    The company also has lined up new itineraries to Norway, Italy and the French Alps.

  • Globus and Cosmos' Lei-sure Style programs were introduced last year, to focus two or three nights in each destination to allow visitors more opportunity for exploring.
  • Three new itineraries are available for next year, ranging from eight to 11 days in France, Ireland or Spain. In France, participants visit Paris, Nimes and Nice.

    The Ireland plan covers Killarney and Dublin, good bases from which to explore nearby castles, pubs and theaters.

    The Spain program spends time in Madrid, Seville and Torremolinos, with exposure to history, flamenco dancing, beaches and museums. Prices start at $909 from April through October.

  • Collette Tours has softened its 1999 Hub and Spoke tours category with a new name: Leisure Stays. On these tours, travelers stay multiple nights at each hotel, using them as bases for day excursions.
  • Cultural Cities is a new, 11-day option in the Leisure Stay category. It features Stockholm, Sweden; St. Petersburg, Russia, and Copenhagen, Denmark.

    The tour is operated April through August and spends three days in each city. Prices start at $1,799.

    Collette's other Europe offerings move at a quicker pace but feature free time in towns after tours.

    One of two new packages is a 10-day tour of Provence, France, taking time for wine tasting, a cruise off Cassis, a farmhouse dinner and a Cezanne-themed walking tour. Prices start at $1,479.

    The Mediterranean Wonders of Greece and Italy package visits seven Greek islands and six Italian cities in 15 days but still allows for leisure time and double-night stays in major cities.

    Other highlights are a three-day cruise and visits to towns in the Tuscan countryside.

  • Tauck Tours this year launched a series called A Week In, emphasizing countryside touring and stays mostly in smaller cities.
  • Next year, Tauck will feature two new destinations in the series, Ireland and Spain.

    The Week in Ireland tour visits Shannon, the Cliffs of Moher, Dromoland Castle, Limerick, Killarney, Adare, the Ring of Kerry, Dublin and Glendalough.

    It runs April through October and is priced from $2,475.

    The Week in Spain visits Madrid, Barcelona, the Costa del Sol, Seville and Cordoba and has departures April through November, with package rates from $2,090.

    The company's other two new programs are an eight-day Treasures of the Greek Isles cruise from $3,090 and a 21-day Prague to Amsterdam tour including the Passion Play in Oberammergau, Germany.

    It operates May through September. Prices begin at $6,190.

    By the numbers

    Following is contact information for the tour operators mentioned above.

  • Abercrombie and Kent
    Phone: (800) 323-7308
    Web: www.abercrombiekent.com
  • Collette Tours
    Phone: (800) 832-4656
    Web: www.collettetours.com
  • Globus and Cosmos
    Phone: (800) 221-0090
    Web: www.globusandcosmos.com
  • Insight Vacations
    Phone: (800) 582-8380
    Web: www.insightvacations.com
  • Maupintour
    Phone: (800) 255-4266
    Web: www.maupintour.com
  • Tauck Tours
    Phone: (800) 788-7885
    Web: www.tauck.com
  • Trafalgar Tours
    Phone: (800) 854-0103
    Web: www.trafalgartours.com
  • Unique World Cruises
    Phone: (800) 669-0757
    Web: www.uniqueworldcruises.com
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