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Worrying mystery surrounds ‘world’s best tour operator’

April 26, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Something strange seems to have happened to a luxury travel company that was named ‘World’s Best Tour Operator’ by prestigious New York-based Travel + Leisure magazine in 2013.

The tour operator, Absolute Travel, is based in New York. American industry publication Insider Travel Report has written that repeated attempts to connect by phone and email with the company’s executives and travel specialists have been unsuccessful. A visitor to Absolute’s office in New York City found it empty, the publication reported.

While Absolute’s website is still operating, the phone number listed on the website rings and then cuts off.

Absolute Travel president and founder Ken Fish had at the end of last week not answered an email asking if his company was still in business, Insider Travel Report said.

The Absolute Travel website says Fish’s “passion for travel revealed itself when he exited his Wall Street career early for an adventure in Australia. He never looked back”.

Meanwhile, a number of complaints have appeared on Yelp, Google and TripAdvisor, concerning services allegedly not being delivered, suppliers left unpaid, clients being left seriously out of pocket and company executives no longer contactable.

Absolute Travel, founded in 1989, claims to have been the first US-based company to sell trips to Vietnam and Cambodia. It is listed as one of the world’s top 10 tour operators in Travel + Leisure’s latest rankings, which place it at number 9 and give it a score of 96.59.

One of Absolute’s travel specialists has for the past nine years been included in the highly competitive Condé Nast Traveler Travel Specialist list for family travel, representing “the best travel advisers in the travel industry”.

Insider Travel Report says Absolute was until last year a member of Virtuoso, the luxury travel network, but is no longer a preferred supplier with Virtuoso.

The company is not in any way connected with Absolute Travel of Sydney, a division of Ski Travel Company, which deals in school group travel and ski trips. Sydney’s Absolute Travel is “completely Australian owned and has no affiliation with any American company,” a spokesperson confirmed.

Written by Peter Needham

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