Hurtigruten reports that sales of its 2009/10 Northern Lights programme are up 80% since it launched in May 2009, compared to last year and attributes most of this growth to the travel trade.

Increased focus has been placed on getting agents to commit to groups this year and the operator has worked hard to educate them on the benefits of targeting this market.

In addition, Hurtigruten believes the ‘Joanna Lumley effect’ following her BBC programme continues to drive awareness of the destination to consumers.

Kathryn Beadle, sales and marketing director at Hurtigruten said: “To be 80% up in the current climate is really positive and there is clearly demand for the product. When we launched in May we knew we wanted to target agents group business and drive this forward. Its clearly working and I believe agents are realising the benefits groups offer and we have already doubled the number of groups confirmed compared to the same time last year. We offer the 11th passenger free on group bookings, enabling agents to give this as a free place to the customer, use it as an escort place or simply put this straight to their bottom line.”

Furthermore, the operator believes that last years TV documentary has had unprecedented effects on sales.

Beadle said: “We all know the power of television, and I believe the BBC programme featuring Joanna Lumley searching for the Northern Lights has driven awareness beyond any level we could have expected. When customers actually see it, they start to understand the beauty and want to experience it themselves.”

For winter 2009, Hurtigruten introduced more themed voyage departures as they sold out last year. Already, the operator’s astronomy and digital photography departures are over 75% sold and agents really do need to ensure customers book early if they want to secure places on these trips.

For more information call Hurtigruten on 020 8846 2666 or

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