Guests who stayed and hired cars found it stressful, and those who took tours in large coaches covering too many cities and travelling on auto-routes found these to be too busy and impersonal. They hated staying just one or two nights and having to move on early in the morning, preferring to stay long enough to unpack their bags for a more relaxed and 'at home' feeling. They discovered the moment an umbrella or flag went up to herd them back onto a bus, was almost always at the same moment they had begun to enjoy themselves.
Carol took notes of what worked and what needed to be changed, and found a niche in the market for personalised tours in smaller groups, travelling at an easy pace with a flexible itinerary. In 2007, after much planning and researching, Carol created Slow Tours. People could travel in small groups, with flexible itineraries, visiting important sites, with many 'off the beaten track' visits, a range of local good food restaurant, bistro and cafe experiences, wine tasting, and more. Carol herself has run tours in many regions of France, as well as across the border into the Italian lakes and Catalonia region of Spain.
In 2014, after 7 years of running up to 10 week-long tours a year, a new website was required to keep up with the changing technical environment. Some of Slow Tours clients had asked if Carol knew other tour operators who ran similar tours in other European countries. Friendships were developed with similar businesses, and this was the foundation of the new Slow Tours Europe as a tour operator and wholesaler.
Slow Tours maintains a wonderful philosophy about travelling – “Travel broadens the mind; is a way to learn about different cultures and ways of living; it helps people to find friends in other places, to learn about their culinary specialities. It allows the traveller to expand his or her knowledge of another country's history and geography, its language and art, music and architecture, flora and fauna. We come in small numbers, valuing, and protecting the environment and way of life of the people and countries we visit.”
The travel industry has been one of the hardest hit by the widespread effects of the coronavirus pandemic. With travel to Europe closing off in March, a large chunk of Slow Tours market fell into uncertainty. Showing herself to be a true master of entrepreneurship, Carol has adjusted her immediate focus into including tours in Australia and New Zealand – both local to South Australia and throughout both countries. Slow Tours has also added to their online store, selling homewares and accessories – mugs and phone cases etc, as well as some beautiful prints of images that Carol has taken during her travels.
Slow Tours has a wonderful team here at Co-Hab. Carol Haslam is joined by Tenneale Brennan who assists in social media and sales & marketing. We really encourage you all to have a look at their website and shop or stop for a chat in the kitchen to get to know them.