GTA founder Babai backs G2 Travel

A NEW wholesale tour operator formed by a group of former Gullivers Travel Associates (GTA) staff is hoping to tap Asian group outbound travel to the tune of 25 million euros (US$32.8 million) a year, pitting itself against other European operators such as Kuoni, which is also going after a bigger slice of the market.

To help it stake a claim is no other than David Babai – founder of GTA who eventually sold the company to Cendant for US$1.1 billion in 2005 – who is coming on board G2 Travel as chairman, having recently seen the conclusion of his six-year non-compete agreement with GTA.

The birth of G2 comes as Kuoni completed its acquisition of GTA last May (TTG Asia e-Daily, May 6, 2011) and continues to strengthen Kuoni Destination Management, which is expanding in Asia.

G2 Travel is officially launching at the end of the month, having spent the last three months putting its foundations in place as a wholesale operator headquartered in Hong Kong, with offices in Bangkok, Jakarta, London, Rome and Bucharest.

David Littlefair heads the Hong Kong and Bangkok operation, while the Jakarta office is headed by Al Mulenga. Both were former general managers of GTA in Thailand and Indonesia, respectively. The names of the other three directors will be released in due course, said Littlefair in a phone interview.

While G2 Travel will also tap outbound group travel from the Middle East, Australia, North America and Europe, Asia is where “the growth story” is, according to Littlefair. The Bangkok office will cover Thailand and Indochina, with Vietnam outbound seen as “growing phenomenally”. Hong Kong will cover the Philippines, while Indonesia will look after Malaysia and Brunei. Most of the Asian business is expected to head for Europe.

Babai said in a statement: “The emerging economies are growing rapidly and with new wealth comes the desire to travel abroad. For the inexperienced traveller, longhaul destinations are incredibly exciting but a huge challenge owing to language barriers, cultural norms, difficulty in getting visas or simply the desire to find the food one likes to eat. Our team really understands how to deal with these issues and provide a memorable experience for the traveller at an acceptable price point, whilst earning a fair return for the effort and knowledge required.”

– Read why there is money in group travel, TTG Asia, February 10 issue

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