JUNE 16 IS THE CUTOFF DAY TO SIGN UP FOR THE CHAMBER-SPONSORED 2014 PERU TRIP
When Tillsonburg District Chamber of Commerce organized its first trip to China in 2012, they had a very close-knit group.
"There was 52 of us," said Suzanne Renken, CEO of Tillsonburg District Chamber of Commerce.
"Everybody said, 'if you ever do another trip, you need to let us know.' The second trip (2013) said exactly the same trip. So I immediately started looking into the other operators that are available through the Chamber, and I thought, 'I can't pick...'"
Seeking a destination for 2014, she emailed the group and said 'vote.' Five possible destinations were given, and Peru was one of the Top 3 along with Argentina and Ireland. A combo tour of Tuscany and Amalfi Coast in Italy was close to the Top 3.
"They did a vote, I counted it out, and Peru came out on top."
So the Tillsonburg District Chamber of Commerce organized an all-inclusive 2014 Peru trip, which departs Sept. 15. Price for the eight-day trip is $2,790 per person based on double occupancy. The itinerary and a related YouTube video are available on TDCC's website (www.tillsonburgchamber.ca). Alternatively, visit the Tillsonburg Travel office on Broadway. Or request an electronic version of the itinerary be emailed.
The initial destination is Lima, Peru's capital city. On the 17th, the group will travel to the Cuzco area, then back to Lima on the 21st for a departure on Sept. 22.
Machu Picchu, a 15th-century Inca site, is one of the highlights, said Renken.
"Very appealing to those who like to travel," she nodded.
"Immediately, people think of Machu Picchu (when they think of Peru)," agreed Tillsonburg Travel's Victoria Rachar. "When people say they're going to Peru that's the first thing that comes into your head."
The local Chamber scheduled two open house presentations, including last Wednesday night's, at The Carriage Hall on Brock Street West with representatives from the tour company, Indus Travel, and local travel company Tillsonburg Travel.
"It's part of the Chamber Travel Program," said Renken. "The first China trip was through a different tour operator. We did a second trip to China in 2013, and now we have a different tour operator, Indus Travel, for our 2014 trip. We also partnered with Tillsonburg Travel – they are doing all the actual bookings."
One of their main roles in organizing the Chamber-sponsored trip is promoting it.
"Basically we promote it," Renken nodded. "If you were looking to do that on your own, and what it would cost, you wouldn't get this price. Through the Ontario Chamber network and the Canadian Chamber – we are members of both – we can take advantage of these programs that are presented to the Chamber network as a whole. That's the reason why the price is so good."
The China trips, in particular, provided commercial opportunities for local businesses. Meetings were set up with the embassies to help create connections and linkages.
But it's much more than just business, she said.
"What we find primarily when we open it up to the community is that it's mostly 'others' who want to go. And that's okay, it does not have to be a business opportunity. It's a vacation, 0a tour. In every community, every Chamber across Canada, everyone's done something like this, and primarily the passengers are often retired or 'community members', and then you have your select business people that want to go."
When the Chamber endorses a trip, said Renken, there's a feeling of security.
"If they know the Chamber is sponsoring it, and with Tillsonburg Travel involved, there's a sense of community."
Also very appealing, said Tillsonburg Travel's Lisa Hirt, is travelling with a group from your own town.
Going into Wednesday's Open House, they had booked 28 people for Peru.
"I think we had several book tonight, so we could be at the 35 trip capacity, which means we might book some more spots," said Renken.
"We have 34 confirmed now," said Mary Beth McElhone from Tillsonburg Travel, excited to be working with the Chamber. "We were guaranteed 35, but we can request more."
The final cutoff day, however, the "absolutely the last day" to sign up for the Tillsonburg District Chamber of Commerce Peru trip is June 16, said McElhone.
More Chamber trips will be planned in the future, said Renken.
"I'd say we would look to do another one in 2015."