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Monday, 5 December 2016

Package holiday

The very first package tour was organized by an English Baptist minister named Thomas Cook. On July 5, 1841, for a return fare of 1 shilling, he took a party of 570 people by train from Leicester to a temperance rally 11 miles away at Loughborough. Cook subsequently organized other package tours as part of his fight against the demon drink. Ironically enough one of the memorials to his name is the Thomas Cook Public House at Leicester, near where he lived.

In 1846 Thomas Cook offered an 800-mile tour of Scotland for one guinea. A party of about 350 people traveled from Leicester to Fleetwood, then to Ardrossan by steamer, and onwards by rail to Glasgow. Special trips were made to Ayr, Edinburgh, and Stirling.

Thomas Cook personally conducted his first continental tour in 1855. Two parties travelled from Harwich to Antwerp, then on to Brussels, Cologne, Frankfurt, Heidelberg, Strasbourg and, finally, to Paris for the International Exhibition. By 1872 he was undertaking world-wide tours, albeit with small groups.

His company, Thomas Cook & Son (commonly called Thomas Cook or simply "Cook's"), grew to become one of the largest and most well known travel agents before becoming state-owned under the British Transport Holding Company. in 1948.

Nile cruise poster from 1922

The first package holiday by air took place in 1932. 24 people booked with the Polytechnic Touring Association for a week in Switzerland at a cost of £12-£14 per person. The flight from Croydon to Basel took five hours.

Vladimir Raitz, the co-founder of the Horizon Holiday Group, pioneered the first mass package holidays abroad with charter flights between Gatwick airport and Corsica in 1950, and organised the first package holiday to Palma in 1952, Lourdes in 1953, and the Costa Brava and Sardinia in 1954.

In 1974, Horizon was taken over by the Clarksons Travel Group which went bankrupt in August that year.

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