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Travellers choose nightlife over wildlife as Northern Lights tops holiday wish-list

With April symbolising the start of the new holiday year for many employees, a recent survey undertaken by travel specialist The Adventure Company has revealed that the enigmatic Aurora Borealis is the leading light when it comes to the holiday experience wish-list.

In the travel specialist’s poll of over 8000 UK travellers, the Northern Lights topped the league of iconic sights that Brits would most like to experience over the coming year with 16% of votes, narrowly pipping Machu Picchu (15.7%) - which this year celebrates the 100th anniversary of being ‘discovered’ by Hiram Bingham - to the ‘must-see’ post.

Explaining the rising popularity of this natural phenomenon Claire Wilson, MD of The Adventure Company, said: “It seems that recent shows such as the BBC’s “Wonders of the Solar System” and Joanna Lumley’s own Northern Lights experiences have really inspired us Brits to look up for holiday inspiration. Coupled with natural displays such as a partial eclipse of the sun and a meteor shower being visible in a few fortunate corners of the UK over the last few months along with last month’s super moon, it looks like the UK’s fascination with ‘star-gazing’ on their travels may finally be moving away from C-list celebrities.”

In third position, with 8.6% of responses, was Nepal’s mighty Himalaya. No longer simply the domain of hardened mountaineers or travellers on the hippy trail, the region has become more accessible through increased flights while The Adventure Company has experienced a 60% increase in demand for holidays to the Himalayan Kingdom over the last four years. And with 2011 having been declared the year of tourism Nepal, it seems that the country’s appeal to those new to adventure and seasoned travellers alike will continue to flourish.

Wildlife-rich destinations such as The Galapagos (8.2%), The Amazon (4%) and The Rainforest (3.6%), meanwhile, were left further down the list, in fourth, eighth and tenth place respectively.

However, perhaps indicating that animals have become as much of a reason to travel as the destination itself, tigers proved triumphant with a quarter of holidaymakers (23.2%) voting the endangered species the animal they would most like to see in their natural environment. With Tigers teetering on the edge of extinction and the chance of sighting one front of mind for many of those travelling to India, it can only be hoped that continued visitors will help increase awareness of the issues facing this majestic creature.

Gorillas were next on the animal agenda, with 12.1% of those questioned choosing them as the animal they’d most like to see on a wildlife holiday, followed by the Giant Panda which drew 10.6% of votes.

With a new generation of intrepid TV presenters inspiring would-be explorers of all ages to be more adventurous with their holidays, it seems there’s still a long way to journey before travel stalwart Michael Palin is ousted from the nation’s heart. Over a third of those polled (37.5%) chose Palin as the TV adventurer they’d most like to travel with, leaving Ray Mears (13.5%) and Ranulph Fiennes (12.7%) in his shadow.

And it’s not just adults who are increasingly drawn to exploring further afield, with the results indicating that families are increasingly adding adventure to their ‘holiday homework’. When parents were asked which corners of the world they would most like to take their children on holiday to, India’s combination of wildlife, culture and stunning landscapes ensured it topped the list for a fifth of families (20.9%). East & South Africa came second (17.7%) and Latin America third (14.3%), while Europe was left in sixth place, having attracted just 11.3% of votes.

Wilson added: “TV coverage over the last few years has certainly helped make adventurous escapes and active breaks seem more accessible. While it’s an accepted truth that travel broadens the mind, age shouldn’t be a barrier to travel. It’s therefore especially encouraging to see more and more parents taking advantage of the school holidays to swap deckchairs for backpacks and, supporting this trend, The Adventure Company has seen a 49% growth in family adventure holidays over the last five years.”

31 March 2011

For further information please contact: Suzanne Seyghal, The Adventure Company PR Manager

Tel: 020 8971 2967 Mobile: 07944 168 697

Email: suzanne.seyghal@tuitravel.com