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Kiwis Eye Former Eastern Europe


Kiwis Eye Former Eastern Europe

Leading New Zealand travel company United Travel is bracing itself for a surge of bookings by Kiwis wanting to head to the former Eastern European states following huge interest sparked by the enlarging of the EU.

A United Travel spokesperson says travel enquiries to Central and Eastern Europe are “considerably higher” as a result of increased attention surrounding the creation of the new super European Union on May 1.

This has already translated into a 30% increase in bookings to Central and Eastern European destinations and this figure is expected to go higher still.

“Interest in Eastern Europe has surged over the past year as people look for new holiday and travel destinations that are different and safe to visit,” says Wendy Hughes, Product Manager for United Travel.

Of the ten new members of the EU, several are former communist states that spent years in isolation behind the iron curtain, including Poland, the Czech republic, Hungary, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia and Slovakia.

Traditionally, those countries have been considered as “off the beaten path” by New Zealanders and their previous isolation is now arousing people’s curiosity, according to Ms Hughes.

She says: “New Zealanders who have done the usual places like London or Paris now want somewhere different, a bit more mysterious and Central/Eastern Europe is the new ‘it’ destination.”

United Travel’s specialist division, Unique Destinations, has been working with its partners in Europe to provide tailor-made packages to New Zealand travelers wanting to explore Central and Eastern European states.

Two of the hottest destinations are the Czech Republic and Hungary, both formerly part of the Hapsburg empire, which are more accessible than some of the other ex-communist states.

Prague, the romantic capital of the Czech Republic, is the city most requested by New Zealand travelers heading that way. The centre of old Bohemia, Prague is regarded as an architectural gem, with magnificent medieval, gothic and baroque buildings dominating the old city.

Close behind in popularity is Budapest, the capital of Hungary. Created by the union of two cities on either side of the Danube river, Buda and Pest, in the late 19th century, Budapest retains much of the elegance of its past, even if its Magyar language is among the most difficult to understand in Europe.

United Travel is catering for New Zealand interest in these two destinations with the following starter packages:

a.. 3-day/2-night Prague stopover starting from NZ$147 per person share twin. This includes two nights accommodation with breakfast and a 3.5-hour city tour.

b.. 4-day/3-night Prague city stay starting from NZ$425 per person share twin. This includes arrival transfer by bus, 3 nights accommodation with breakfast, 3.5-hour city tour, cultural performance, plus a full day excursion from Prague.

c.. 3-day/2-night Budapest stopover starting from NZ$279 per person share twin. Includes two nights accommodation with breakfast, 3-hour city tour, return transfers.

Air fares from New Zealand to Europe depend on the time of year when traveling, says United Travel, which recommends flying into London and then on to either Prague or Budapest. But a typical fare from Auckland to Prague will cost from around $2699 with Qantas and British Airways during low season.

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