For many people, 2016 was a year they’d rather forget. Politics divided us, talented people left us far too soon, and the news seemed to be an unrelenting stream of war and terror. It’s sometimes easy to forget the good when the bad stuff leaves a more lasting impression. But plenty of good things happened this year too.
Giant pandas dropped off the endangered list and tiger numbers rose for the first time in a century. A vaccine for Ebola was created and the first solar-powered plane circumnavigated the globe. And that’s just naming a few.
All in all, it was a year of ups and downs. With only a day left of 2016, we thought it a good opportunity to reflect on the year we’ve had at On The Go Tours and reflect on some of our personal highlights.
This year we fell even more in love with Burma and launched three new itineraries that offer travellers a short city stay in Yangon, a week-long holiday taking in the main attractions and a longer trip that includes time in the gorgeous beach resort of Ngapali. Considered one of next year’s best travel destinations, Myanmar is no doubt going to see an increase in visitor numbers so get in now.
We also launched our first Cambodia-only tour with a 6 day itinerary visiting Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. It’s the perfect length for those short on time but eager to explore the incredible temples of Angkor. We also added two new tours to our China portfolio, focusing solely on the scenic south and offering the chance to explore rural China, from holy mountains to karst-studded rivers. They’re the perfect itineraries to capture the imagination of second-time visitors to China and take advantage of the ever-expanding options of flights to the provincial capital Chengdu.
Once off limits due to civil war, the northeast of Sri Lanka is now an emerging travel destination offering a distinct character similar, in many respects, to southern India. It’s a region that retains an earthy and laid-back vibe yet now benefits from improved infrastructure, which makes it ripe for discovery on our new 12 day tour.
In Peru we went off-the-beaten track with an unforgettable overland journey that covers all the highlights including Machu Picchu and the Nazca lines, as well as less-visited spots like the Pampa Galera National Wildlife Reserve and Rio Mantaro River Gorge. Travelling by 4×4, it’s the best way to discover the wild side of Peru.
More Choice Than Ever
There’s a big, wide world out there and we’re covering more of it than ever with a number of new destinations added to our portfolio this year. There’s a distinctly wild and wintry theme with our choice of additional destinations. First there was Norway with adventure in the Arctic Circle and the remote Svalbard archipelago. Then there was Lapland with family-friendly holidays encompassing reindeer, glass igloos and the chance to meet Santa and his little elves.
After this came Antarctica with four once-in-a-lifetime cruise expeditions to the world’s coldest continent. And the perfect compliment to this was our most recent addition, Greenland, on the opposite side of the planet. Remote, large & mostly uninhabited, it’s the ideal destination for intrepid travellers wanting to go somewhere few other people have been.
It wasn’t all icebergs, polar wildlife and Northern Lights, however. Stretching our memory way back to January, we also launched overland tours across Eastern Europe. With departures between April and October, these tours offer the perfect amount of culture and history in the European spring and summer.
Doing Our Bit
In India, our Change for Children programme supported the building of a new girl’s toilet at the Abhaneri village school. Prior to this the young boys and girls would share one communal toilet.
This year we said goodbye to elephant rides and visits to elephant orphanages once included on our tours in India, Sri Lanka and Thailand. In order to ensure the people we worked with locally were not left high and dry, it was a gradual and sustainable process that allowed the local communities to find other sources of revenue.
In September we were awarded runner up in the TOFTigers annual Wildlife Tourism Awards. Chairman of TOFTigers, Julian Matthews, said it was On The Go’s message of responsible tourism and consistency in efforts and contributions to the cause over the years that secured us this award.
And speaking of awards, our star moment of the year happened just last month at the British Travel Awards. Thanks to our travellers and their votes, we won gold awards in the categories of Best Holiday Company to Southern Asia, East & Central Asia, and North Africa. As if that wasn’t enough, we also bagged silver in the Best Holiday Company to Southeast Asia and Best Escorted Adventure Holiday Company categories, as well as bronze in Best Escorted Tours Holiday Company. To say we’re proud barely covers it and we couldn’t have done it without you, so THANK YOU!
A Few Final Shout Outs
We couldn’t wrap up this post without mentioning Egypt and the increase in traveller numbers over the last 12 months. For us, Egypt is where it all started and we were all devastated to watch as the tourism industry collapsed in the aftermath of Arab Spring. It was a tough time as people we worked with closely suffered the effects of dwindling tourists and the huge contribution they made to Egypt’s economy.
Thankfully, the treasures of ancient Egypt and the country’s warm and welcoming people are enticing travellers back once again. Egypt is back in our top three best-selling destinations for the year so far and our local guides are busy taking passengers felucca sailing on the Nile and exploring the jaw-dropping Pyramids and temples of Luxor.
And last but certainly not least, 2016 saw us open our first ever office in South Africa and relaunch this very blog, The Inside Track, with a fresh makeover and lots of fab articles.
Here’s to 2017!
None of us know what next year holds in store but if 2016 has taught us anything, it’s to not take anything for granted and to actively look for the good, regardless of what else might be happening.
However you choose to celebrate the 31st, everyone here at On The Go Tours wishes you a very Happy New Year – may 2017 be filled with plenty of good stuff and lots of travel!