“Cultural Travelers” Have Over 50 Choices For Local Hosts as InTouch Travel Concept Extends Into 10 Countries

Seattle, WA (PRWEB) July 28, 2005 — In its first summer of operation, InTouch Travel has recruited over 50 English-speaking hosts in Europe and America for its innovative programs of intensive cultural immersion for independent, experienced travelers.

Hosts range from a trendy Parisienne to a distinguished British wine expert, from a Greek cookbook writer to a Turkish business executive, from an artistic Spaniard to the American author of a guidebook for athletes.

A directory, searchable by the location and professional specialty of the hosts, is available at InTouch Travel’s website, www.InTouchTravel.com.

Travelers have the opportunity to spend two full days with their selected hosts, learning more about their professional specialties or the daily lives of people who live and work in a foreign culture. Overnight lodging is at a choice of conveniently located three- or four-star hotels.

InTouch Travel is responding to a renewed interest in the concept of cultural tourism, according to company founder Andrea Nims.

“We started with hosts in France, Italy, Spain and the US,” she reports. “Within weeks, we added hosts in Greece, Turkey, Germany and the UK. And by the end of the year we’ll be offering our program in eastern Europe as well.”

The hosts are active, educated, outgoing people with a passion for their jobs and their families, and pride in the culture and history of the place they call home. They have expertise in a variety of professions, often with advanced academic degrees, with careers in teaching, journalism, tourism and the arts. Many are native speakers of English who have settled into lives abroad.

“The concept is great for leisure travelers who want more than museums and souvenirs,” explains the founder and director of In Touch Travel, Andrea Mielke Nims. “Textbooks can explain cultural differences, novels and movies damatize them, but to truly understand another culture, you have to see it and live it for yourself.”

Foreign cultures, Nims points out, are a bit like icebergs: 90 percent of what makes them tick is underwater, out of sight. To appreciate another culture on your own could take months, moving in and making friends. The rewards are great, but few travelers have the time, let alone the connections.

Local tourist bureaus have been huge supporters of “people-to-people” programs like In Touch, Nims reports, even though they have a low profile.

“Our hosts take you beyond the usual tourist itinerary and link you with local, English-speaking people who have agreed to share their personal and professional lives.”

The all-inclusive price for two guests for a two-day, two-night program depends only on the quality of lodging chosen by the guest ($3,200 for a superior three-star hotel, $3,600 for a four-star hotel, $4,000 for a five-star luxury property). The host, compensated by InTouch Travel, pays for all meals, local transportation and incidental expenses.

InTouch Travel pays the standard 8 percent commission to travel agents who include a memorable InTouch experience in their clients’ vacations.

Many hosts offer two options: “In Depth,” sharing their knowledge and expertise as they go about a day of professional activities, and “Up Close,” sharing their day as they go about their personal lives.

InTouch Travel is based in Snoqualmie, Washington, in the foothills of the Cascade mountains east of Seattle. The company’s founder, Andrea Nims, was born and raised in Germany. She studied Business Administration with an emphasis on tourism, and worked for tour operators in Germany, the United Kingdom and Mexico before moving to the United States 12 years ago. For eight years she worked for a company specializing in luxury wine and food vacations in France. “I learned that many American travelers missed getting to know local residents, and that there was a growing interest in traveling for personal enrichment.”

Clients can search for hosts compatible with their interests and travel plans online, both by location and by professional specialty. They then request a two-day visit for their preferred dates, complete a short profile, and indicate their choice of lodging.

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