Oasis Overland and Encounters Travel join Atas to woo agents

Sister brands Oasis Overland and Encounters Travel have joined the Association of Touring and Adventure Suppliers to connect with UK agents to boost sales.

Founded in 1997, Oasis Overland offers adventurous tours across Africa, the Middle East, South America, and Central Asia. It was purchased by Uncover the World Travel – the parent company of Encounters Travel – in April 2021.

Encounters Travel also specialises in adventure travel and works with local communities to ensure trips have a positive impact.

Together they have 25 back-end staff and “a few hundred partners” such as guides and drivers in destinations.

Encounters Travel currently takes about 2,000-3,000 passengers away each year, while Oasis has 750-1,000.

Danniell Saunders (pictured), marketing director, said: “UK travel agents will play a crucial role in helping us reach, engage, and support our target audience of adventure travellers from the UK market.”

He added: “By being part of Atas, Oasis Overland and Encounters Travel demonstrates its commitment to providing exceptional travel experiences while adhering to industry best practices and regulations.

“Additionally, membership allows us to access valuable resources, training and networking opportunities that will enhance our ability to deliver unparalleled service and customer experiences.”

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He said partnering with UK agents will help the brands reach a “broader audience of potential customers”.

“By collaborating with UK travel agents, we can ensure customers receive high-quality support throughout their travel experience,” he added.

As well as attending as many Atas events as possible, the brands will both offer a fam trip in 2024 to help agents learn about their products. They will also offer training, incentives and marketing support.

For 2024, Encounters Travel and Oasis Overland are adding new destinations and itineraries to cater to diverse interests, and “doubling down” on sustainability.

Commenting on the market, Saunders said: “2023 was tracking exceptionally well up until October when the war in Gaza erupted. Four of our biggest selling countries are in the region: Egypt, Jordan, Israel and Lebanon.

“We are now slowly seeing an uptick in web visits and enquiries.”

Other changes in the market have seen longer overland trips (10 weeks or more) gaining popularity.

“These journeys require substantial planning, leading travellers to secure their spots well in advance,” he said.

“Conversely, shorter trips are seeing more last-minute bookings, possibly due to the uncertainties surrounding certain destinations.

“The instability in the Middle East has undoubtedly influenced travel decisions. Despite these challenges, there’s still a strong interest in exploring bucket-list destinations, albeit with a heightened awareness of safety and security concerns.”

He added: “What makes touring and adventure travel so personal to us is the genuine connections it fosters. It’s not just about sightseeing; it’s about forging bonds with local communities, learning from their perspectives, and contributing positively to their livelihoods.

“Moreover, touring and adventure travel align closely with our core values of exploration, authenticity and sustainability.”

Saunders also hailed the new sustainability hub from Atas, saying: “Sustainability is a critical issue facing the global tourism sector, and initiatives like this are essential for promoting responsible travel practices.

“Encouraging sustainability not only benefits the environment but also enhances the overall travel experience for our customers.

“By supporting initiatives like Atas’ sustainability hub, we can work together to minimise our environmental footprint, preserve natural resources, and contribute to the well-being of local communities.

“We strive to integrate sustainable practices into our operations, from reducing single-use plastics to supporting local economies through responsible tourism initiatives.”

Claire Brighton, Atas director, said: “It’s great news that Oasis Overland and Encounters Travel are joining our ranks. They are eager to share information about their holidays with our agents – and they’re keen advocates of sustainable tourism too.

“Together we can support agents who want to offer their clients immersive and authentic tours in a wide range of destinations.”

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