The Giles files HOLIDAY

ABOVE: Hawke says the UK will have to move fast to become carbon neutral by 2050

compete. Something had to change,” he insists. “With hindsight, maybe we put the commission down too low,” he admits. “But the model was broken and we had to fix it. And there were some agents that said privately they liked it.” Hawke is quick to reassure he wouldn’t implement such a move in his current role. “Would I do it where I am now? Absolutely not, because we haven’t got agents giving away to the customer a big chunk of what we’re giving them, in order to secure the booking.”

ELECTRIC DREAM Hawke also points out since he left Carnival in 2013 he increased agent commission at both MSC Cruises – where he was UK managing director for three years – as well as Cosmos and Avalon, which he joined as chief executive in 2016. He confesses this latter role as boss of a river line left him eating his words with the Clia committee. “I remember [when I was at MSC] saying to Andy Harmer [then Clia director] we were spending a lot of time on river cruising, and that we needed to focus more on ocean. Now that’s come back to bite me,” he chuckles. Three years in as chief executive of the river line and touring company, though, Hawke is relishing his role, and heads up the sustainability work at parent company Globus. It’s Hawke’s way of tackling what he believes is the second-biggest threat to the travel industry. “I think climate change and sustainability will have a major impact on what we do [as a sector] over the next 10 to 15 years,” he says, and he is proud of the changes the business has already made.

This includes removing bottled water from its

coaches across the world; plans to use filtered water on Avalon’s Mekong and European ships; a determination to “get rid of paper [documentation] completely”; and the installation of solar panels in offices owned by the group. “The UK has committed to being carbon neutral by 2050 but things will have to change fairly fast to get there,” Hawke points out. He is passionate about Cosmos being part of that change, and he’s not afraid to think big. “What are the things we should be thinking about in our business in 10 to 20 years’ time? In 30 years, can we have all our river ships fully electric? How do we make that happen? I can foresee river cruise lines working together to buy land to have that renewable energy to enable ships to plug into points shoreside.” And where does Hawke see himself in 10 years?

“Well, I’m 50 this year, so hopefully driving round Europe in a camper van,” he grins. As for the industry, he believes that will also look “drastically different” in a decade. “Aside from family and work, there are two things that I spend my time worrying about,” Hawke confesses. “The state of the world and climate change, and Brexit.” I ask why he is so passionate – and vocal – about

Brexit. “No Brexiteer can give me a good reason why they’re affecting my children’s future,” he states bluntly. “I just can’t see what the negatives are of being part of this greater cause and working together. This is my small way of protesting against something which I see as so grossly wrong, unfair and irresponsible. When my kids say to me in 10 years’ time: ‘Daddy, what did you do to try to stop this,’ at least I can say: ‘I did this’.”

“No Brexiteer can give me a good reason why they’re affecting my children’s future”


Skiing (understandably) would be his favourite break abroad.

If he wasn’t working in the travel industry, Giles would be doing “something outdoors and to do with nature – a national park ranger maybe”.


His mum said that when Giles was little, he wanted to be a postman.


Apparently, his party trick is lighting a sambuca in his mouth.


He’s never been to South America and would love to tour the continent.

Giles once had actor Buster Merryfield (Uncle Albert from Only Fools and Horses) onboard when he was a coach guide on a trip to Krimml waterfalls in Austria.

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