Packagers build plans around King's Road

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NEW YORK -- One of the fastest-growing travel routes in northern Europe is the 3-year-old King's Road across Scandinavia, which in the few short years of its promotion has attracted more than a dozen tour packagers.

King's Road packages display considerable variety beyond the traditional escorted motorcoach tour, said Nino de Prado, director of the Finnish Tourist Board here.

"You can do it by car, train, bus, bike or even on foot," he said.

The King's Road -- a historical route dating back to the Middle Ages and used by royalty in centuries past -- extends from Oslo, Norway, through Stockholm, Sweden, then hops across the Gulf of Bothnia and continues from Turku on Finland's west coast through Helsinki and across the eastern border to St. Petersburg in Russia.

The route traces much of the region's cultural history, with many castles, ancient inns and historical towns along the way.

The Finnish Tourist Board this year published a brochure about the King's Road through Finland. It also includes a special section on the road in its 1999 Finland Vacation Guide, describing the highlights of the route and listing tour operators that have packaged the itinerary.

Also new for travel agents this year as part of the promotion is a 65-page Finland King's Road product manual with more detailed information on accommodations, transportation options, itineraries, towns along the road and industry suppliers with King's Road-related products or services.

Among the programs with King's Road elements in Finland this year are:

  • Nordique Tours offers a six-night package at a land cost of $559 per person, double, linking Turku by bus and rail with Helsinki and the coastal town of Ekenas, as well as a $349 Aland Islands package.
  • A 16-day Imperial Passage Through Scandinavia tour at an air-inclusive cost of $3,458 per person, double, from New York, starts in Bergen, Norway, and goes to Helsinki, taking in a number of historical villages and scenic areas, and including many meals. It is available through Passage Tours, Scantours and Pearls of Scandinavia.
  • Norvista and SeaEurope Holidays handle bookings for the seven-day King's Road West tour, which is priced from $1,689 to $1,959 per person, double, from New York. It starts in Oslo and continues by air to Stockholm and by a Silja Line ship to Turku, then by motorcoach to Helsinki. It can be expanded to include a King's Road East segment from Helsinki to St. Petersburg for $659, land only.
  • An 11-day escorted itinerary, Treasures of the King's Road, which takes in Helsinki, Turku, Stockholm, Oslo and Bergen, and includes transportation by rail, ship and air, is available for a land cost of $2,538 per person, double, from Nelson's Scandinavia, Nordic Saga Tours, Borton Overseas and Pearls of Scandinavia.
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