New England Travel to open in Glen Innes

 Craig Ritchie and Gabrielle Norbury who will manage the Glen Innes business.
Craig Ritchie and Gabrielle Norbury who will manage the Glen Innes business.

An Armidale travel agency is opening a new store in Glen Innes after finding people in the town were travelling to Armidale to book holidays.

New England Travel is to open an office on Glen Innes’ Grey Street.

Craig Ritchie, Director of the New England Travel Centre in Armidale, said customers were coming from Glen so he reckoned there was a market there.

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He said in Armidale, with a population of 25,000, there were four travel business employing 20 full-time consultants who advise and book trips, and in Inverell, with a population of 12,000, there was a travel business employing six consultants.

He reasoned that those figures indicated that was a gap in the market in Glen Innes and he intended to fill it.

The plan is to open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10am to 4pm, with two consultants there. If business was brisk, hours could be extended.

Mr Ritchie admitted he was defying conventional wisdom by seeing a good future of bricks and mortar travel agencies in the age of the internet.

“People often ask how the internet has affected the retail travel agency business and assume that everyone is booking things on-line,” he said. 

“Interestingly, our business continues to show year on year growth because not only are there more people traveling , many of them are seeing the value of using our experience.

“For much of the simple transactional business such as a flight from Armidale to Sydney or a hotel room, most people are happy to do that themselves however for larger tours and trips where experience make the difference between a great experience and an average one, using an experienced agent is a no-brainer.”

He said that the internet had expanded his business’ market because he could deal with customers all over the world from New England and that helped keep costs down They could get better deals from airlines, for example.

“The internet actually allows us to service clients from all over the world and to explain how the system works. It doesn’t cost you any more to have us book a tour for you than you would pay going direct to the company”. 

In a way, Mr Ritchie is no stranger to the business in Glen. His father, Lex, was in a partenrship with Don Hall when they opened Gem Travel in Glen Innes in the late 60s.

Craig worked for Don and then became owner of New England travel in 2001.