Battlefield Tours Reconnect New Generations with their Ancestors
23rd April 2012 – Each year, the country recognises the contribution that New Zealanders have made to ensure our freedom and way of life. Anzac Day is a special day to commemorate the heroism and bravery of those who fought in World War I and II, and subsequent wars around the globe.
Increasingly the actions and experiences of grandparents and great-grand parents are being revived by the younger generation. Not only, in participation during the Dawn Ceremonies around the country, but also in retracing the steps of relatives through Europe, Turkey and West Africa. An increasingly popular phenomenon is known as “Battlefield Touring” – where visitors make personal journeys recounting the footsteps of their fore-fathers (or mothers) by visiting the battlefields where so many New Zealanders and Australians were killed or maimed.
“We have seen Battlefield Touring increasing in popularity year on year. As an example, ANZAC tours are up 25% for one of our most popular tour operators, who are looking to double availability for 2013,” says Anne Graham, House of Travel’s UK/Europe Product Manager. “Our experience is that the generations that fought through the first and second World Wars did not want to recount these experiences when they returned home. Now their children and grandchildren aspire to learn more about their bravery and contribution by reconnecting with the places where these wars were fought.”
The most popular destinations include Passchendaele, Western France, Monte Cassino, Crete and of course, Gallipoli. “We’re finding that our travellers are looking for anything from a full self-drive and explore experience, to fully guided 12 day tours. The 3-4 day guided tours are popular for those that want to fit a lot into their European holiday,” says Anne. “If our customers opt for a guided tour, our recommendation is that they ensure their guide is an accredited expert, such as a member of the “Guild of Battlefield Guides”. Also, make sure your guide specialises in ANZAC history, as many of the historians and guides will be European specialists.”
House of Travel is also seeing interest and enquiry for the 2015 Anzac 100 years Commemorations in Gallipoli. “Customers can’t book as yet, but we are taking registrations of interest for tours and packages to the Commemoration events,” says Anne. Details of the tours available are still under development. It is expected that the 2015 Anzac Day Event at Gallipoli will be primarily an official event, with only limited access by tour operators due to restrictions on the number of people allowed on the peninsula at any one time - hence demand will be exceptionally high.
Anne’s final advice for researching and booking a Battlefield Tour experience is to ensure to keep personal objectives at the heart of the preparation. “There may be specific cemeteries that you want to visit, or museums in certain townships that may help you build a picture of what your relatives have been through. If you are opting for the Guided Tour option, make sure that your tour gives you the flexibility and freedom to personalise the experience so that you see places that are most important to you.”
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