TourCrafters adds apartments, budget plans


LIBERTYVILLE, Ill. -- Italy specialist TourCrafters here is adding apartment rentals and a line of escorted budget tours to its 2001 lineup.

TourCrafters' 2001 Italy brochure now includes rental apartments in Rome, near the Piazza di Spagna and Piazza Navona; in Florence, near the Ponte Vecchio and the Duomo; in Venice, near the Piazza San Marco and the Rialto Bridge, and in Siena.

Prices vary by week and by season, according to Mauro Galli, president of TourCrafters.

The apartments feature kitchens, and families will find them an economical alternative to staying in hotels, he said.

In addition to the city apartments, TourCrafters also is introducing apartment and villa rentals at a variety of locations in the Tuscany region -- mostly near Florence -- along with farmhouse stays and cooking school programs, Galli said.

Visitors to Piazza San Marco in Venice greet feathered friends.The company introduced two budget escorted tours: the six-night Beauty of Italy program priced at $659 per person, double, land only, and the seven-night Italian Collection at $739.

The six-night tour takes in Rome, Assisi, Siena, Florence, Padua and Venice.

The rate covers hotels, sightseeing, breakfasts, some dinners, guides and entrance fees.

The seven-night version adds visits to Verona and Lake Como.

Both programs have weekly departures from April through October.

TourCrafters was able to reduce the cost on the escorted tours by using hotels that "are not as centrally located," Galli said.

In other news, the company is offering a $50 consumer air rebate for spring travel, released an all-Sicily brochure and plans to begin a motorcoach operation in Naples, according to Galli.

The operator's spring promotion provides consumers with a $50 rebate on any air/land package that uses Alitalia when tickets are issued and paid for by April 30 for travel completed by May 31.

An example of TourCrafters' apartments for rent in Italy.Travel agents will receive full commission on the rebated packages, Galli said.

The tour operator issued a 20-page Sicily brochure with a selection of tours, hotels, villa rentals, cooking courses and excursions to the Aeolian Islands.

TourCrafters' basic Sicily package is a seven-night tour that features stays at Jolly Hotels properties, all meals and sightseeing for a land-only cost of $799.

The company's 48-page Italy brochure includes a range of escorted, hosted and independent packages; hotel selections; car rentals, and fly/drive programs.

TourCrafters also plans to come out soon with a new Spain brochure, a destination that Galli calls a "natural for us."

In addition, the operator also offers programs to Britain, France, Czech Republic, Austria and Hungary.

Meanwhile, Galli said the company plans to open a Gray Line motorcoach operation in Naples, Italy, as part of an effort to revitalize the city's tourism.

In the past, "Naples had a bad name" due to incidents of petty crime, but the city's "reality is not as bad" as the reputation, Galli said.

"[Naples] has refurbished all the monuments; it has cleaned up the downtown area," he said.

Gray Line will provide scheduled tours of the city, but the start-up date has not been determined, he added.

TourCrafters also is planning to overhaul its Web site in April, with new software that will enable consumers and agents to make bookings and to check on the status of reservation requests and other details, Galli said.

For more information, contact TourCrafters at (800) 482-5995; e-mail [email protected], or visit the Web site at

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