Tributes have poured in for low-cost package holidays pioneer Harry Goodman, who has passed away.
The founder of International Leisure Group and mastermind behind a host of historic travel brands left school at 16 and later became a multi-millionaire and one of the industry’s most influential figures.
Jo Rzymowska, vice-president and managing director Celebrity Cruises UK & Ireland, who joined Intasun in 1982 – her first job in travel – called Goodman “a true entrepreneur”.
She told TTG: “I started as a resort representative in Mallorca during summers and Austria during winters, and he truly gave me my first break.
"He made me realise that anything is possible if you are hungry enough to succeed and make it happen! A true legend."
Trevor Davis, managing director of 3FOR, and who began working for ILG in 1985, said he had spoken to Goodman only a week ago.
“He was on great form – his usually cheeky self. It was such a shock when I heard the news yesterday,” he told TTG.
In 2016, Davis organised a series of events to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the operator’s collapse for which Goodman was guest of honour.
“We had people flying in from all over the place just to see Harry. He was loved and admired by so many," Davis added.
Posting on social media, Chris Oakes, head of sales at Faremine, called Goodman “a real giant, pioneer and trailblazer”.
Oakes, who worked for ILG as a rep from 1988-1990, added: “Without him a lot of us indirectly would never have had the chance of a career in travel.”
For many, Goodman is considered a visionary, spotting the opportunity for a pan-European airline before Ryanair and easyJet. But all this was far in the future when Goodman left school at 16 to join a travel agency.
He set up his first tour operation, Sunair, in 1966 and when it got into trouble and was taken over he created a lookalike operation, Intasun, in 1973. The biggest operators when Intasun came on the scene were Clarksons and Thomson. When Clarksons went bust in 1974, Intasun started its phenomenal growth although Thomson took the number one spot.
Intasun started acquiring regional operators to challenge Thomson, and in 1979 Goodman announced package holidays to Miami Beach in Florida costing from only £139 for a week or £199 for two weeks. TTG’s headline at the time read: “US package holidays for the masses”.
Intasun was floated as a public company in 1981, but taken back into private ownership six years later. In 1985 it was renamed International Leisure Group, as it acquired other tour operators including Global, Lancaster, Club 18-30 and NAT. ILG’s battle with Thomson for top spot was fierce.
Air Europe was set up in 1979 as a charter carrier, but by 1988 it had become a scheduled airline to cities as well as resorts.
However the Gulf War of 1990-91 caused a loss of passengers and Air Europe lost cash. Goodman blamed the banks for pulling the plug on ILG on March 8, 1991, although he says it still had £5 million in reserves. About 4,000 people lost their jobs.
Goodman bounced back with TV Travel Shop in 1998 and later ran a cruise agency before retiring.