This is the story of Thomas Cook.
He was an Englishman who lived in the nineteenth century and is fondly regarded as the father of modern day tourism.
Just over a hundred and fifty years ago, he started a revolution in travel and tourism which is still ongoing today.
He came up with the idea of making a holiday available, affordable and fashionable to ordinary people, not just the rich and privileged.
Thomas Cook brought us the package holiday, travelers cheques, the holiday brochure, hotel discounts and overseas travel.
It was at the time of the industrial revolution when people had moved from villages to new and expanding towns and cities.
A developing railway network and new roads made travelling more possible to most people.
Public holidays were decreed by the British government.
Suddenly, people had more time, money, knowledge, opportunity and curiosity to travel.
A ‘Holiday’ was no longer just a ‘Holy day’ celebrated on Sunday but a chance to go somewhere and to do something different.
People could now link destination with accommodation, transportation and recreation in an integrated way.
The package holiday was well and truly born.
Thomas Cook was certainly an opportunist. The new holiday market was about to become his ‘oyster’ and make his fortune.
It actually all began in 1841 when Thomas Cook borrowed Ten Pounds from his father and set up a Travel Agent Shop in the nearby town of Loughborough.
His first organized excursion was on the 5th July 1841.
On this infamous day, five hundred people paid a shilling for the 12 mile train journey from Leicester to Loughborough and back for a religious festival.
People warmed to the idea and excursions were soon organized to places further afield such as London, Liverpool, Sheffield and Bristol.
It was not long before continental rail trips were also organized to Paris, Brussels and Frankfurt.
Blindness affected Thomas Cook in his later years and he died in 1892 at the grand old age of eighty four.
Thomas’ John and then his grandchildren continued the family business for many years after his death before selling it on in the 1920s.
Today, Thomas Cook is a corporate giant as a public limited Company with more than 27,000 employees in seventeen countries.
Thomas Cook remains an iconic presence on nearly every High Street in the United Kingdom.
The name of Thomas Cook is undoubtedly a global phenomena beyond the early expectations of the humble man who started it all.


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