Special Report: Travel's finest win top industry accolade

Special Report: Travel's finest win top industry accolade

An agency owner, park operator, airline stalwart and hotel founder are among those to be honoured at next week’s Hall of Fame awards dinner

Kuljinder Bahia, owner and managing director of Southall Travel, will be one of the industry figures to enter the Hall of Fame at next week’s awards dinner.

The event, now in its 19th year, honours people who have made a significant contribution to the travel industry.

Bahia will be the first agency owner to be given the honour since Ian Allan, founder of Ian Allan Travel, and John Hays, managing director of Hays Travel, received the accolade in 2010.

As the hands-on managing director of Southall Travel, Bahia has taken his business from a £500,000 turnover when he took over the firm in 1997 to the £270 million business it is today.

The business traditionally served the visiting friends and relations market to the subcontinent. Bahia transformed it to provide holidays worldwide, business travel and luxury tour operating. In 2008, he launched business-to-business division The Holiday Team, giving agents access to air fares through its own booking system. Southall Travel employs more than 850 staff.

Peter Harris, chairman of Bourne Leisure, will also become a Hall of Fame member. Harris started a holiday caravan business in 1964 with one park. The company now operates 35 Haven parks, three Butlins resorts and 13 Warner Leisure properties. In 2007, Harris bought a small videoconferencing business, BCS Global, with business partner Stuart Wallis, which he is still developing.

The achievements of Steve Ridgway, who stepped down as chief executive of Virgin Atlantic in March after 23 years, will be recognised on the night. Since he joined the airline in 1989, it has grown from operating just two 747s to 40 long-haul aircraft.

Other well-known figures to enter the Hall of Fame will be Four Seasons founder Isadore Sharp, who opened the group’s first hotel in Toronto nearly 50 years ago, and Sir Moir Lockhead OBE, former chief executive of FirstGroup.

The Hall of Fame awards dinner, hosted by Kingley Event Management, will be held at the Savoy hotel, London, on April 25.

Honours for Olympics chief Deighton and Travel Foundation’s Hurdle

Two other awards will be given out at the Hall of Fame dinner.

Paul Deighton, former chief executive of Olympics organising body Locog, will receive the business achievement of the year award for his delivery of last year’s widely-praised Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The ex-Goldman Sachs banker will be recognised for his handling of the Games, one of the biggest logistical challenges that any country can face.

Since the Olympics, Deighton has been commercial secretary to the Treasury, where he has responsibility for the National Infrastructure Plan.

The ambassador award for autstanding contribution to sustainable travel will be presented jointly to Sue Hurdle, chief executive of the Travel Foundation and to the foundation itself.

Hurdle was inspired to create the foundation after starting her career at Thomas Cook, which sponsored her to study for a masters degree in tourism and social responsibility. She resolved to find a way to raise industry awareness and practical ways to maximise the benefits tourism can bring to destinations.

Accolades for younger stars

The winners of the young manager and young entrepreneur of the year awards will be announced on the night. These awards recognise achievement by younger business leaders in developing the travel industry.

Young manager finalists are:

  • Rochelle Read, senior manager e-commerce UK & IE, Expedia
  • Nate Bucholz, industry head, travel, Google UK
  • John Milburn, head of operations, Hays Travel
  • Michael Wake, product director search and pricing, Travelport
  • Glyn Owen, head of marketing UK, Travelzoo (Europe)
  • Kylie Mather, partner, Travlaw

The finalists for the young entrepreneur award are:

  • Renaldo Scheepers, chief executive, A2Btravelextras.com
  • Emma Cashmore, MD, Axis Travel Marketing
  • Simon Purchase, MD, Cruising Excursions
  • Craig Burton, MD, Ski Solutions

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