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NEWS


tion and true eatly missed


ed by many’ estt f gur


ed by many’ es


round Iound, I, e industtrel indusl fiigure ry greatest figures’ ute to ‘one of Carnival UK chairman David


Dingle said Hays was “one of the greatest figures of the British travel industry, indeed the greatest I have known”, adding that he was a “champion of people and a champion of the high street travel agent”. Rad Sofronijevic, chief operating


officer for Midcounties Co-operative’s travel division, said: “John was a huge advocate for the high street travel agent, a travel industry champion and a true gentleman.” Andrew Flintham, UK managing


director of Tui, said: “John’s passion for the travel industry was undisputed.” Stephen Bath, former managing


director of Bath Travel, which Hays acquired in 2013, said: “He would put his arm around his staff at Christmas and say thank you. It cost nothing, but means the world. It makes staff loyal and that’s what John was very good at.” Chris Photi, head of travel and


leisure at White Hart Associates, said: “It’s too easy to label someone a ‘legend’, but John Hays was truly a travel industry legend without a shadow of a doubt.”


travelweekly.co.uk John Bevan, chief executive


of dnata Travel B2B Europe, said “Without his drive, the memories from millions of holidays would never have been created.” IG members thanked Hays for his


support and guidance. Not Just Travel co-founders Steve


Witt and Paul Harrison said: “John was on our advisory board and a great friend to us all.” Miles Morgan Travel chairman


Miles Morgan said: “John was simply a great guy and an inspiration to me when I started my business.” Tributes flooded in online as ‘RIP


John’ trended on Twitter. Clia UK director Andy Harmer said: “John was a great travel entrepreneur and leader for the entire industry.” Advantage Travel Partnership


chief executive Julia Lo Bue-Said said: “Very few people have achieved as much as John Hays. An industry giant and true gentleman.” Derek Jones, chief executive of


Kuoni parent Der Touristik, said: “John was an inspiration and a true legend of the industry.”


Travel is a poorer place this week


T ravel Weekly editor-in-chief Lucy Huxley pays tribute


As one friend and colleague of John Hays succinctly put it, it is easy to overuse the term legend, but the travel industry has lost a true giant. The news that John had collapsed and died came as an immense


shock. But the outpouring of grief and condolences since is a tribute to the esteem in which he was held across the industry, in the northeast of England and far beyond. I first met John 21 years ago, and in the


John put


two decades since I have had a front row seat as he and his beloved wife Irene built the business that is now the UK’s largest high street travel retailer. An incredibly intelligent and driven


yet modest man, John had the rare ability to put people at ease and gave the impression that he had time for everyone, regardless of their standing. Just one recent example of the respect and admiration he commanded


was at a Travel Weekly event following the acquisition of the Thomas Cook retail estate, when without fail the leaders of the UK’s largest travel brands accepted our invitation – often adjusting their diaries – to hear from John and Irene first hand. John worked hard and played hard, and I will cherish many memories


of events, trips and conferences, when his business acumen and fierce intellect were always apparent, but were inevitably accompanied by a sense of fun and a joy for the industry in which he had built his empire. My thoughts and deepest sympathies are with Irene, his family and the


Hays Travel staff who were always his priority. As the company said, it was some solace to know that he died doing


the job he loved and surrounded by the people he worked tirelessly for. The UK travel trade, and the wider travel industry, is a far poorer place


for his passing. 19 NOVEMBER 2020 5


people at ease and gave the impression he had time for everyone


tion and true eatly missed


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