Travel stalwart retires

Travel stalwart retires

John Sumner, most recently a travel and cruise specialist with Travel Managers Group, is retiring from 30 November.

‘After 54 years in the tourism industry it is time to hang up my boots,’ Sumner says. 

‘I started in Auckland at the NZGTB (now Tourism NZ) where initially I was running errands and delivering tickets. In those days all ticketing was done manually and checked by a supervisor before adding loose itinerary pages.

‘Whenuapai was our International airport and the first jet plane to arrive was the BOAC (British Airways) Comet. For meeting and greeting overseas visitors we were permitted to enter the customs area to locate our clients,’ Sumner recalls.

‘For clients arriving by cruise ships we caught the 5 am customs boat and met the ship way out in the channel. To board the ship we had to climb up a rope ladder.’

Sumner says he was fortunate to have three overseas postings.

‘The first was as the NZ Tourism representative at Expo70 in Osaka for most of that year. I travelled  SYD/TYO on the new PANAM 747 Jumbo. Highlights included meeting Prince Charles, twice, and having a wine with him at an evening function. I was the ‘social director’ for the NZ Pavilion and the NZ Restaurant. At one function I had Kiri te Kanawa and the late Inia te Wiata perform. The condition was that I had to lock the doors as their contract did not include this.

‘My next move was to Melbourne and for four years I was selling Tiki Tours and FIT. We were so busy that at times we had to shut the doors because too many clients were wanting to get in. Catching up on processing meant sleeping overnight on the floor. 

‘Finally to Tokyo - for four years I was attached to the Embassy as the Tourism representative promoting NZ to Japan and Hong Kong travel agents.’

In 1995 he started his broker career with Select Travel, which became part of  Travel Managers.

‘My only regret is not doing a famil to the Northern Territory in Australia.

‘My father, Dave, was also in outbound travel for 50 years. Not bad, 104 years father and son in travel’