A new tour operator has been launched offering activity and experience-based holidays ranging from Formula 1 Grand Prix races and music festivals to driving armed vehicles and caving worldwide.
Pumpkin Tours, a member of the Travel Trust Association, will pay travel agents a flat rate of 14% commission.
Managing director Eugene Bari, who has experience of setting up tours for music bands worldwide, said: "We will sell through any agents. We would prefer to deal with the trade as they know their customers and prices will be the same direct as through agents."
He claimed there was a gap in the trade for holidays offering events and experience-based trips, which agents could exploit. "These are experiences to get people's hearts going," he added. "We are not offering anything that we have not tried out ourselves."
In 2009, the operator is offering three-night packages from £225 to the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, which include return travel, accommodation in provided tents within walking distance of the track, and evening comic acts and music bands, to include a "household" name.
Other examples of its product include caving in the Pal-Volgyi Caves in Hungary, visiting nuclear bunkers under Buda Castle, trips to the Oktoberfest beer festival in Munich, Germany, and new year in Berlin and Amsterdam. Prices lead-in at £195.
Average selling prices will be around £400 and the company will have a representative on the ground for all its holidays. "We are trying to make it affordable," said Bari.
The independent company, backed by Bari and a business partner, will take bookings through its London call centre or online at pumpkintours.co.uk
Bart said the operator had joined the TTA to offer financial backing, adding it had not joined ABTA because it was "prohibitively expensive".
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