Travel Courier
Issue Date: Oct 03, 2019

Collette “just getting started” ahead of 102nd travel season

Tour operator launches 20 new tours for 2020


Collette is gearing up for its 102nd travel season in 2020 with over 20 new tours being offered including Russia, Patagonia, the Azores, the Galapagos, and a combo tour to Egypt and Jordan.
“It may be our 102nd season, but we’re just getting started. We’re continuing to redefine what guided travel is and continuing to evolve, innovate and be creative to the guest experience and really listening to our customers to make the best possible experiences across the globe,” said Jaclyn Leibl-Cote, president of Collette.

Collette’s Ron Lonsdale, vice-president of Canada; Alisia Apostolou, marketing manager, Canada; and George Christakis, head of sales, Canada.

Christian Leibl-Cote, senior vice-president of Global Business, Collette; and Susan Bowman, vice-president, Marketing and Industry Relations, Transat Distribution Canada.

In 2020, the Explorations program, which was the focus of last year’s season launch event, will be 100% carbon offset, and most tours will feature impact moments, which are designed to connect travellers to a destination in a deeper way. For example, on the Mysteries of India itinerary, travellers visit Sheroes Hangout, a pay-what-you-can café run by women survivors of acid attacks.

“We continue to expand Choice On Tour which creates that flexibility within tour programs, we’ve been doing it for over five years, and it just keeps growing; we have that on over 75% of our tour programs,” she added. “Definitely, what we’re seeing more of is the want for experiences, a little more off the beaten path. Explorations, that small group tour product line, continues to be a key driver for us.”

In total, there are 160 tours across five travel styles in all continents.

While the tour operator is part of an exclusive club to make it past its centennial anniversary in the travel business, she told Travel Courier that the travel trade can have confidence in the 102-year-old operation and that they aren’t resting on their laurels.

“Thankfully, we’re debt-free, we have zero debt, we have a high ranking on Dun & Bradstreet, and to our travellers, to our partners, that should provide peace of mind when travelling with Collette. You have a lot of companies that own planes, buses, ships and all that kind of stuff and that forces debt. We’re really smart with the way we reinvest in ourselves and invest in the company without putting ourselves in financial difficulty. You always have
to try to stay on top of that and be as risk-free as possible,” she said. “It’s a competitive landscape. Never get complacent, never think that you are always going to be in existence, you gotta keep moving forward and really trying to stay at the top of our game because anything can happen.”

What’s hot for 2020?

As for what’s coming in strong for 2020, some of the destinations include the Galapagos, Portugal, Costa Rica, the Christmas markets of Europe, Ireland, Scotland, Australia, Finland, Japan, especially with the Olympics, and the Oberammergau Passion Play in Germany.

“We’re seeing Morocco go through the roof right now. Egypt and Jordan are booming. Russia is back,” she said. “We’ve really expanded much more in Europe, but still continue in exotics and all those destinations with Explorations, so it’s been a busy, but good 2020.”

A popular tour in the USA is the Bluegrass Country & the Smoky Mountains tour, which agents can experience first-hand on the upcoming fam tour on Aug. 6-14, 2020. The trip visits a private horse farm in Lexington, Kentucky, takes in the vibrant and artistic downtown of Asheville, North Carolina during a walking tour, the mecca of horse racing
in Louisville, Kentucky, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Agents can apply for the opportunity at

Back to Canada, she said the market is looking strong. In addition to the launch event in Toronto, a similar event will take place next month in New York City.

“We’re seeing steady and consistent growth from Canada, which is great, and the projections for 2020 are looking good,” she said.