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Railbookers says this country is leading the way in Europe bookings

TORONTO — If your clients haven’t had the pleasure of seeing Italy by rail, Railbookers is here to tell you that now is the absolute right time to book.

Speaking with Travelweek, Dan Reisig, Communications Manager at Railbookers Group, says that demand has never been higher, with bookings to Italy up 103% in the first six weeks of 2023 over the same period in 2019. 

Canadians in particular are soaking up ‘la dolce vita’ right now, adds Reisig, making up about 20% of the company’s total Italy bookings in 2023 so far. This represents a whopping 73% increase over the same six-week period in 2022. With early numbers like these, it’s obvious Canadians are well on their way to finish 2023 on a high note, considering the fact that in all of 2022, they made up approximately 35% of Railbookers’ total bookings to Italy.

So what’s driving all this demand for the beloved boot-shaped country? 

“There are many factors at play,” says Reisig. “Independent travel (FIT) has been the first to come back post-pandemic since it’s not dependent on specific dates or filling a group tour. The amount of shows and media attention for Italy has elevated interested, for example, ‘The White Lotus’ television show. And travellers are also interested in new destinations within Italy, beyond the traditional city centres. Cinque Terre, for example, is exploding for us.”

As a rail tour operator, Railbookers offers a diverse portfolio of trips across the UK, Europe, North America and beyond. According to Reisig, the fact that the company operates as a domestic operator in each of its source markets has helped it withstand the pressures and challenges of the pandemic.

“Our recovery was immediate and fast. While international rail travel took a hit, rail is an essential service in each country. Even throughout the pandemic, we never had a day where we didn’t take a new booking. For example, Canadians were still travelling within Canada with us,” said Reisig, adding that the company surpassed 2019 levels in 2022, ending the year with nearly double the business. 

And with Italy leading the charge now, Railbookers is already on track to eclipse 2022’s record year.

“Italy offers high-speed rail between city centres, with the train stations located directly in the heart of the city, unlike airports, which are on the outskirts and require more time and transfers to reach popular destinations,” adds Reisig. “Due to the high-speed rail, travel times in Italy are shorter than driving or taking a bus, while travellers can still enjoy scenic views from the ground in comfort.”


If you ask Reisig, rail vacations are an excellent option for anyone looking to explore a destination independently, especially in Europe where an extensive, high-speed rail network allows for fast, comfortable and convenient travel between cities, ports and tourism areas. 

“With the increase in popularity of independent travel, we have seen dramatic growth in demand for rail-based itineraries within and between popular European destinations like Switzerland, Italy, France, the UK, Eastern Europe and Scandinavia,” he says. 

“High-speed rail enables independent travellers to really get the most out of the destinations they’re visiting, by eliminating lengthy transfers to outlying airports and time-consuming check-in procedures, and delivering them to their destination comfortably with time to hit the ground running and start exploring on arrival,” he adds.

Aside from independent travellers, Reisig also notes that rail travel is ideal for:

  • Those who don’t like to fly: Railbookers is seeing agent inquiries for clients wishing to travel across Canada by train to avoid flying. For example, demand has increased for rail journeys from British Columbia to Southern California to explore the Grand Canyon or connect with cruises from Los Angeles or San Diego.
  • Bucket listers. For travellers looking to celebrate a milestone life event, Reisig recommends The Canadian, VIA Rail’s famous train connecting Toronto and Vancouver. There are also luxury trains like the Venice Simplon-Orient Express, perfect for honeymooners.
  • Cruisers. About 30% of Railbookers’ European bookings are on pre- and post-cruise extension itineraries that connect with the river and ocean ports of Europe. Flexible, customizable packages that explore beyond the ports of Alaska and throughout North America are also available.
  • National park explorers. Railbookers’ Amtrak Vacations brand specializes in the U.S. National Parks, with many journeys featuring America’s most iconic destinations like Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, Yosemite and Glacier National Parks. With its National Parks program, Railbookers is able to hold inventory at the National Park Lodges, which are often full. 


Reisig cannot emphasize enough how important travel agents are to the company. He tells Travelweek that Railbookers’ main mission and singular focus is “to make it easy, convenient and lucrative for travel advisors to book rail,” adding that this approach applies to the Canadian market just as much as it does in other source markets like the U.S., UK and Australia.

“Our main booking method at Railbookers Group is to work with travel advisors over the phone, enabling our travel consultants to offer a one-on-one consultation and tailor a package to the client’s specific requirements, building the itinerary in real time and providing a quote by email immediately after the call, he says.” 

“Travel agents earn commission on hotels, sightseeing tours, transfers and excursions, in addition to the rail segments we book for their clients. In this way, we have elevated rail to the status of a high-revenue product, and established independent rail vacations as a new category of product that travel advisors can suggest regularly to their clients,” adds Reisig. 

In 2019, Railbookers doubled-down on its commitment to the agent community by appointing Cris David, a 25-year industry veteran based in Toronto, as its dedicated VP of Sales for the Canadian market. 

Both of the company’s brands – Railbookers and Amtrak Vacations – feature a dedicated Canadian Travel Agent Portal, accessible from the homepage of their respective websites, where agents can access a wealth of marketing materials as well as pre-recorded ‘travel tidbits’ training webinars. Live training webinars conducted by the company’s global sales team can also be arranged by emailing

As for fams, Railbookers’ policy is to encourage travel agents to “go out and experience independent travel by rail in the same way their clients would – on their own schedule with their own family and friends,” says Reisig. The company offers 20% off the cost of any trip for a travel agent and up to three companions.

Railbookers has a dedicated Canadian toll-free reservations number, 1-877-579-9217, with all of its products displayed, quoted, booked and paid in Canadian dollars. This year, agents can look forward to several new itineraries across Europe featuring new sleeper trains, including the NightJet from Amsterdam to Vienna. Railbookers is also focusing on developing its Cruise Extensions, a portfolio of more than 60 ready-made itineraries categorized on its website by rivers and ports. 

To learn more about new itineraries go to Additional maps and information can be accessed via the Travel Agent Toolbox

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Railbookers says this country is leading the way in Europe bookings

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