New touring firm takes discerning travellers deeper

Sydney-based Arcadia Expeditions makes a play in the luxury small group space

A new Australian small group travel company offering “immersive historical and cultural journeys” to exotic destinations around the globe has this month made its entry into the luxury travel sphere.

Founded by two friends and based in Sydney, Arcadia Expeditions has launched during the midst of the worst travel crisis in history aiming to capture the imagination of potential travellers in the “dreaming” phase of where they’ll next travel abroad once the pandemic eases.

Arcadia Expeditions has distinguished itself from other players in the space by focusing on immersive storytelling “that gives discerning travellers the opportunity to go deeper, to become more engaged and to have first-hand experiences and intellectual exchanges,” the company boasts. Destinations include Sudan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and Kenya, Turkey and Vietnam.

Jordan & Saudi Arabia - Mada'in Salih (Hegra)

Co-Founders David Mannix (Managing Director) and David Adams (Director) have spent the past 12 months developing the concept. The duo share a wealth of touring know-how and filmmaking experience, which is what makes the program unique. Arcadia Expeditions’ guests will be made to feel as if they are joining the making of a documentary, without the film crew.

David Mannix, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Arcadia Expeditions
David Adams, Co-Founder and Director, Arcadia Expeditions

Mannix’s travel industry career has included 15 years in adventure travel, with long stints at Intrepid Group as Regional GM – Europe, Middle East and North Africa based in Marrakesh and GM – Vietnam based in Hanoi; at Aurora Expeditions as Business, Sales and Marketing Manager; and Travel Indochina as Marketing Manager.

Adams is the Founder and Director of David Adams Films which is now in its 33rd year of documentary film production. Some of his work includes a 13-part series – Journeys to the Ends of the Earth – made for the Discovery Network. He’s also a widely published photojournalist.

Mannix told LATTE Arcadia Expeditions is focused “squarely at the luxury market” and the pair have spent many months scouring the world for the “very best subject matter experts to tell their stories”.

Launch program

Trips are priced at an average of around AU$1,000 a day and target the discerning traveller who has already ‘been there and done that’ and now looking for a more “intellectual component” to their travels. Group numbers are capped at 16 guests (12 in Sudan). The accommodation featured in the eight initial itineraries are five-star properties – which includes luxury tented camps – chosen based on their character, comfort and central location.

Arcadia Expeditions’ Sudan: The Three Niles adventure is led by historian David Adams and visits areas and sites few travellers explore, including the pyramids of the Black Pharaohs and a six-day cruise along the Red Sea coast. The Turkmenistan & Uzbekistan: Conquest of the Silk Road trip educates guests on the life of the region’s greatest conquerors and the worlds they destroyed and created, providing exclusive access to archaeological digs.

The Jordan & Saudi Arabia: Desert Empires is billed as a “first of its kind” and combines the history and archaeology, exploring rarely-visited remote parts of northern Saudi Arabia in search of ancient ruins and rock art.

Trip departures are scheduled for as early as December 2020 to Vietnam and throughout 2021.

Strategic launch during pandemic

Mannix and Adams had planned to debut the brand a few months ago but chose to wait it out as the level of  containment of the coronavirus improved.

“We felt that now was the right time to launch – there has been easing of restrictions around the world and the pent up demand for international travel has people dreaming of their next post-pandemic adventure,” Mannix said.

“It’s our job right now to inspire people with something completely different, and to let them know about our unique storytelling style, so that when the day comes where people are able to travel, they consider travelling with Arcadia.”

The start-up also sees the pandemic as a great leveller in the tour operating space.

“It’s almost like everybody has to start again. So, with us entering the market with a completely unique offering and a small group travel style to remote areas that suits a post-COVID world, it gives us a good chance to make an impact and not be drowned out by the bigger players,” he said.

Working with trade partners

Mannix said Arcadia Expeditions is keen to work with all travel advisors.

“We are however interested in partnering up on a more permanent basis with individual stores who have experience dealing without the type of client and themselves have a client list that may be interested in the Arcadia-style.”

Arcadia intends to work with a select handful of preferred agents and provide training, in-person and online. Feedback from a training session held last week with a group of advisors in Melbourne was very positive.

The touring company also plans to sell its program on an international scale, working with partners and clients in overseas countries, meaning the current Australian border restrictions won’t limit guest patronage.

“Already we’ve had bookings from the UK and because countries like this are already allowing international travel we are confident we can fill departures in 2021 and beyond,” Mannix concluded.

Registrations are already being accepted for trips to future destinations, many of which are in their final stages of planning, including India, Niger, Namibia, Iran, Morocco, Botswana, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia, while private departures can also be arranged.


Lead image: Pyramids of Meroë, Sudan | All images supplied by Arcadia Expeditions

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