Continued from Page 44
In a decision that shocked the industry, the ICC ruled that he shouldn’t have been granted
a permit at all, in essence rendering the tour operator industry unlawful.
The 10-year legal battle that followed and that ended in the Supreme Court became known
as the Tauck Case. Along the way, Tauck and a dozen other operators formed the National Tour Brokers Association to represent the industry’s interests in Washington. Today it is
known as the National Tour Association.
The post-war boom years of the 1950s not only saw the beginnings of the modern motorcoach tour industry, they set the stage for a blossoming of international leisure travel and
specialized tour operators to meet the demand.
In 1947, Alex Harris founded General Tours and started taking groups of Americans to the
Soviet Union. In 1951, Fred Kassner and Gil Haroche founded Keystone Tours, promoting
value-priced packages to Mexico, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, and Europe. Keystone would
become Gogo Worldwide Vacations.
Pleasant Holidays, founded in 1959, developed the Hawaii packaged travel business out of
California. At the same time, Lars-Eric Lindblad set out with his first group of explorers, offering expeditions to exotic locales.
Soon tour operating became big business and the typical operator was juggling substantial
commitments, and substantial consumer funds, for rooms, airline seats, motorcoaches and
Consumer protection became a concern. In the early 1970s, the Civil Aeronautics Board
began requiring air charter operators to post bonds and safeguard passenger deposits with
The U.S. Tour Operators Association came into being and required its members to meet
financial standards; by 1978 members had to post a $100,000 indemnity bond and carry $1
million of liability insurance.
In Europe in the ’60s and ’70s, the leisure travel business tended to evolve toward vertical
integration, with airline, motorcoach, hotel and even retail travel operations consolidated in
one corporate family.
In the U.S., by contrast, tour operators tended to stay independent, but they were nevertheless exposed to several waves of consolidation.
In the late 1990s, a particularly intense wave of acquisitions and attempted roll-ups resulted
in the creation of several multibrand firms such as Global Vacation Group, Far & Wide Travel,
Vista Travel Ventures and Grand Expeditions.
There were public stock offerings and grand plans for efficient new technologies, but they
didn’t survive the downturn that followed 9/11.
Today, for the most part, operators have resettled into independent, privately owned companies, some of them, like Tauck World Discovery and Lindblad Expeditions, still being run
by their founding families. — Michelle Baran
FROM THE ARCHIVES
Lindblad Travel Group
Feb. 6, 1968
Lars-Eric Lindblad The Antarctic Circle was crossed last week for
the first time by tourists on the fifth Antarctic
package created by Lindblad Travel, N. Y.
The operator’s previous tours to the southern
continent had not traveled beyond the circle.
The party of 24, escorted by Lars-Eric Lindblad,
agency president, included 21 Americans,
two Italians and one New Zealander.
Princess Division Develops First Tours
April 28, 1972
Princess Tours, the newly formed division of Princess Cruises, offered its first
ASTA Again Urges Licensing Of Operators
season of Alaskan tours beginning June 5. Transportation combined segments
aboard the Princess Italia with other portions on scheduled airlines,
motorcoaches, rail and sternwheeler riverboats.
Dec. 9, 1976
The Civil Aeronautics Board presided over a never-ending series of debates over
air charters and charter tours and briefly entertained the idea of licensing tour
operators. Stung by numerous incidents involving “shady charter operators,”
ASTA endorsed the idea but the USTOA opposed it, as did the (now-defunct)
Airline Charter Tour Operators Association.
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