Tour operators are responding to consumer demand when it comes to offerings in South America. Flexibility, customization and extensions are in the spotlight. That’s good news for agents, who’ll have more options than ever in designing trips for clients.
“South America as a destination is really coming alive. I think it’s because more travelers are looking for options closer to home,” Beth Karlicek, Alexander + Roberts senior vice president for operations and planning, tells Travel Agent.
One new option for clients is Alexander+Roberts’ “Five Days in Argentina” Private Journey. The go-any-day trip visits Buenos Aires and Iguazu Falls. It includes privately-guided sightseeing and a number of extensions to customize the itinerary.
In Buenos Aires, hotel choices include the Hyatt Palacio Duhau and the CasaSur Art Hotel, which is located in the Recoleta. At the Falls, clients can choose the Iguazu Grand Resort or the Sheraton Iguazu Resort & Spa.
Three- and four-day extensions include Cordoba, known for its historic Jesuit estancias. A luxury trip to Mendoza features the Cavas Wine Lodge. Additional options include Patagonia, Bariloche and Rio de Janeiro.
"A lot of people have a sense that Argentina has so many areas to explore. They just aren’t sure how to go about it. Some of these destinations are absolutely fantastic, but Americans aren’t very familiar with them,” said Karlicek.
The extension to Mendoza is designed for wine lovers, though one needn’t be a wine expert, says Karlicek.
“The scenery is fabulous and the Cavas Wine Lodge is a Relais & Chateaux property. It’s a beautiful villa, and each room has a rooftop terrace with its own fireplace and lounge,” she noted.
Avanti Destinations has also added new modules to help agents plan a customized trip for clients. They’re particularly appropriate for repeat visitors, who may have already seen the headliners of Machu Picchu, the Galapagos and Iguazu.
Avanti options include the wine country of Uruguay; a stay in a 16th-century hacienda on an Ecuadorian farm and a trip to the Bolivian salt flats with accommodations in a luxury Airstream camper.
“One of our options is a trip to Chiloe island off of lower Patagonia. It has the last Spanish bastion in the western hemisphere. It’s also known for the curanto. It’s a special seafood dish with shellfish and other ingredients that is traditionally made in a big pot,” Harry Dalgaard, Avanti’s president and founder tells Travel Agent.
South America, says Dalgaard, offers a prime backdrop for immersion in local culture.
“I think that’s the essence of travel. It’s education. People feel different about a place if they’ve had a chance to experience the culture. That’s an important reason we’re in this business,” said Dalgaard.
For operator Cox & Kings, destinations such as Colombia and Bolivia are “on fire,” according to Scott Wiseman, president, the Americas.
“Travel advisors are key because they know the exact mix of options clients are looking for. We’re here to help them with that. South America is practically in our own backyard. There’s no jet lag. It’s easy to get there. And the choices for clients are just phenomenal,” Wiseman tells Travel Agent.