SPACE tourism pioneer, Virgin Galactic is planning to expand its presence in the Middle East region, according to Sharon Garrett, head of space marketing at Virgin Galactic accredited space office.
Coinciding with the Arabian Travel Market, the region’s travel agencies are encouraged to register their interest in selling space travel with the company’s space office in Dubai [email protected]
Registration should include an initial proposal outlining credentials, client base/profile, location, network and most importantly why they feel their company has what it takes to sell space travel in their local market.
To date there have been less than 500 astronauts, but with the launch of its spaceflights this is likely to change. The company has already sold more than 200 tickets globally which equates to more than $30 million in deposits, representing more than $45 million of future income.
“Travel agents play an integral role in the Virgin Galactic distribution process. As a trusted advisor and source of information for their clients, we are seeking only the best agencies to sell spaceflights. We want to create a network of agents in the Middle East who are knowledgeable, well informed and know how to deliver the highest levels of service when selling unique travel experiences,” said Ms Carolyn Wincer, head of astronaut sales, Virgin Galactic.
“ATM is the ideal platform to announce our intentions of expanding the distribution network and inviting interested travel agencies to register with us. We anticipate finalising the appointment of agents before the end of the year and commencing the all important “accredited sales agent” training throughout the region. It takes a very talented and skilled travel consultant to sell a trip to space,” said Garrett.
At $200,000 per ticket, Virgin Galactic’s flights are a mere fraction of the $20 million price tag associated with other commercial space tourism providers.
The first test flights are slated to take place in the summer of 2008 and the first commercial flights are likely end of 2009. The space travel company will own and operate privately built spaceships, modeled on the SpaceShipOne craft. These spaceships will allow affordable sub-orbital space tourism for the first time in mankind’s history.