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The sad demise of the great British travel company

And while some of the backing for the venture will be from foreign companies, I’m assured that the new Monarch will be a British company and the majority shareholders are British. 

Generally speaking, history has not been kind to the great names in British travel. Given that we pretty much invented the concept of tourism and remain among the most enthusiastic and pioneering travellers on earth, our golden touch seems to have dulled when it comes to the commercial side of things.

The great railway boom began in Britain. Thomas Cook, a baptist missionary from Derbyshire, founded the company that ran the world’s first escorted tour in 1841, the first overseas package holiday (1855) and first round-the-world cruise (1872). 

The great shipping lines which served the colonies and powered across the Atlantic, such as P&O, Cunard and White Star Line, were mainly British start-ups. 

The world’s first scheduled air service, from London to Paris, was launched by the British company, Aircraft Transport and Travel, and BOAC initiated the first commercial passenger jet service in 1953, at the time the first transatlantic jets in 1958. 

Both were forerunners of British Airways, which of course, launched the first supersonic jets in the Seventies. The whole concept of cheap package holidays in the sun was launched here in the Sixties.

But Thomas Cook collapsed in 2019, just two years after Monarch. While the brand has been revived, it is now owned by China’s Fosun Tourism Group and the company’s offering bears little relationship to that of its pioneering forefathers.

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