Why is IsramWorld hot? Simply put, this tour operator isn’t one to rest on its 40-plus years of experience to draw in clients. It offers an ever-expanding portfolio of product for every budget and taste, including the newly launched, value-priced Vistas; it unveils innovative itineraries such as the LGBT- and Jewish-minded trips to Cuba; and, oh yes, it told Russia “nyet” when the country enacted regulations that could endanger or discriminate against gay travelers or travelers who “exhibit a tolerance for the LGBT lifestyle.”
“As a company, we lead, we act swiftly not waiting for others and following their lead,” says Richard Krieger, executive v.p., IsramWorld. “This is one of our core principals that Ady Gelber [president and CEO] has instilled in our corporate culture and that makes us grow.”
Speaking of growth, the company’s Cuba bookings, which are through its Latour subsidiary, are through the roof, and part of that has to do with its “outside the box” thinking when creating such itineraries as Shalom, Cuba!, geared to audiences interested in the Caribbean country’s Jewish heritage, and Cuban Pride!, geared to LGBT travelers. “Building on existing interest,” says Krieger, “we created programs for specific niche markets, which would differentiate us from the others who are in the market already. As IsramWorld evolves, we feel it is important to drill down to specific client bases and create programs and experiences that are of interest to them.”
Enter Vistas, which launched this past summer and was created for the traveler looking for value-priced, high-quality innovative travel experiences. “As with many tour operators, the time is right to launch a lower price point product. Market shifts require us to not only remain competitive in the piece of market we lead, but to do the same in emerging markets such as innovative, lower cost product lines,” points out Krieger.
Vistas’ brochure includes tours to Brazil, Central Europe, Israel, Morocco, Peru, Spain, Turkey, Vietnam and Russia, although, as of press time, the company was monitoring the situation in Russia and, as Krieger notes, “hopefully, even moderate changes, will allow us to once again promote a destination we love.” Regarding adding to its current list of destinations, the operator will adjust them based on requests, popularity and market trends.
To get a feel for these lower-cost tours, a 7-day trip to Peru, for example, is bookable at $1,918 pp land-only, while rates for an 8-day trip to Spain start at $1,675 and a 9-day trip to Vietnam starts at $1,399. Rates include accommodations, sightseeing tours, English-speaking guides, site entrance fees, and arrival and departure transfers.
But does value mean slicing away at the immersive experiences IsramWorld is known for? According to Krieger, Vistas is focused on tours that are “designed to offer the flavor of a destination while still maintaining cultural and historical experiences,” adding that, “they are less ‘intense,’ without sacrificing memorable experiences.”
On the Wonders of Spain trip, for instance, travelers will get a taste of Spain with visits to Madrid, Toledo, Cordoba, Seville, and Granada, with guided city tours in each. They’ll wander the medieval lanes in Toledo and see the 13th century cathedral up-close; walk through the narrow lanes of the Jewish quarter in Cordoba; and in Granada, visit the beautifully kept Generalife Gardens with its charming ponds and water channels. There’s even time to soak up the sun on the beaches of the Costa del Sol.
Krieger does point out that right now they are seeing tremendous interest in South America and thus its Enchanting Peru trip has proven to be quite popular. That trip offers travelers sightseeing tours of Lima and Cuzco, as well as the opportunity to explore Inca ruins and the colonial village of Pisac, where there’s a chance to shop in its Indian market, and, of course, there’s a visit to the impressive Machu Picchu.
Krieger adds that in terms of the overall outlook for Vistas, agents have been very supportive—“not just in words, but with bookings. Our team of destination specialists have been fully trained to sell Vistas and to walk an agent through the booking process and clarify differences.”