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About Concorde Travel

 

Concorde Travel was established in 1978 with the goal of being the type of travel agency that would strive to bring to its clients the excitement and joy of travel.  Whether it was to find that perfect hotel or resort to relax and rejuvenate, a trip of discovery into new and exotic countries or an expedition, not just to the exotic, but to lands that few have ever traveled on an organized expedition of a lifetime.

 

To help our clients create the trip of their dreams Concorde Travel has built up a highly skilled and dedicated staff of people dedicated to making your travel as pleasant and convenient as possible.  Many of our staff have been with Concorde Travel for fifteen, twenty years and even longer. Collectively there are several hundred years of skilled travel experience at your service. 

 

Each of our staff members brings their different skills and knowledge of the world of travel.  Among our staff you will find someone who will understand your needs and help you to create the perfect trip. 

To ensure that our Travel Consultants know and understand the need of our clients we have always actively encouraged them to visit destinations and to experience different hotels and resorts. This is so that they will be able to better understand your needs and give you first hand reports about them. We want our staff to be as knowledgeable as possible in order to share our accumulated knowledge about destinations and accommodations with you, our customer. 
 
Cruising has become increasingly popular and because there are a multitude of specialized small ships available for this purpose, Concorde Travel has set up a dedicated "Cruising" department to assist you. A specialist Cruise Consultant heads this department, Susan Davis. Sue has joined us from the UK with many years experience with one of London 's leading cruise sales companies. Sue now lives in Hong Kong and is eager to assist you with your cruise vacation plans.
 

Hong Kong has long been the gateway to China and Asia and, one year after founding, Concorde Travel set up an incoming DMC (Destination Management Company).  This division organises tours into China and elsewhere in Asia for overseas visitors.  Very often these visitors commence their vacation in Hong Kong allowing time to get their visas for China and other destinations while here.

Concorde Travel looks forward to assisting you with the planning of your next travel itinerary, or alternatively, we look forward to welcoming you to Hong Kong , China and the rest of Asia .
 
Graham Elsom.
Managing Director.
Concorde Air-Sea Services Limited                                     Licence No. 350343 

 

Please call our Travel Advisors at 3180 6799 or email enquiries@jebsenholidays.com

  

 

About Graham Elsom, Managing Director
 
Graham Elsom was born to travel.  Soon after his emergence into the world his mother bundled him up and took him on what was the first scheduled passenger flight from Perth to Melbourne. It landed at Laverton Airport Base in Melbourne and it was 1945/6.  Since then Graham has spent a lifetime in the travel industry both in Australia and Hong Kong . It would be a significant understatement to say he has been addicted to travel since childhood. Having left school in Melbourne , Australia , in 1962, Graham's overwhelming ambition was to become a Travel Consultant. His first position got him in the door. This was as Assistant Messenger with the world famous and oldest travel agency in the world, Thos. Cook & Son, one of the very few travel agencies in Melbourne at that time.


In order to fulfill his parent's ambitions he very reluctantly entered Monash University in 1963, the year the University was founded, in the faculty of Economics and Politics. 


Very quickly deciding he wanted no part of such a conventional life he embarked on a long and rewarding career in the travel industry. Every opportunity to travel was (and still is) eagerly taken up and he has travelled extensively ever since.

 

Graham has a passion for travel and a passion to share it with his clients.  Graham is eager for his clients to enjoy the pleasures of travel and is always willing to share his experiences and give his advice. 
 
 

 

 

 

Reminisces of a Travel Agent

(An article which appeared in the Australian Association of Hong Kong’s monthly newsletter “Kanga News”, in June, 2004.)

 

Twenty Eight wonderful Years in Hong Kong

I consider myself to be one of those fortunate individuals who has been able to spend a lifetime doing more or less exactly what he wanted to do.

 

My first and most sought after job was as Messenger, for what was at that time in 1962, the world’s most prestigious travel company, Thomas Cook & Son. Their small office was located at the very beautiful “Paris End” of Collins Street , Melbourne , Australia .

 

I had no wish to join any other industry and apart from an unwanted but self-inflicted sojourn at university in order to please my parents, I have remained in the travel industry ever since. The mainstay of my more recent years has been the wonderful city of Hong Kong .

 

Hong Kong has enabled me to achieve what I have wanted to do most. Hong Kong has enabled me to travel and has provided me with that most precious of all possessions, a partner of some fifteen years.

 

Children as they are growing up, love playing with trains and such things. I grew up loving only travel brochures.

 

By the age of twelve or thirteen, I had already developed a passionate desire to travel and when I saw the big ocean liners of P&O, Shaw Savill, Lloyd Triestino and Chandris, tied up at Station Pier, Melbourne, I was green with envy. I wanted to go where those ships were going.

 

My family, like many Australian families, travelled a lot. I was born in Perth , went to school in Melbourne , ended up in Sydney , and was back in Melbourne again, as manager of a Dutch travel business for two years, before being sent, somewhat reluctantly, to manage their operations here in Hong Kong . The year was 1976.   

 

I don’t know why I always wanted to travel? I think that it was simply because I have always enjoyed the enchantment and beauty of “other places”.

 

As a child my family travelled regularly on the very uninteresting road between Geelong , where we lived, and Melbourne . My younger brother and I would sit, somewhat travel-weary, in the back seat of the car, while my mother would tell us to look out the window and appreciate what she considered was the beautiful scenery we were passing. My mother would point out how a pond or dam was set in such a way that it perfectly balanced with the trees, or perhaps the clouds in the sky. She taught us how to appreciate natural beauty.

 

Unfortunately, it is obvious that very few people in Hong Kong are given this opportunity. One can't even see much of the sky between the towering skyscrapers.

 

This love of “scenery” has never left me. I am just as excited as ever when leaving on yet another journey, whether it be to nearby China or to the other side of the world. I still always request a window seat that is not over the wing of the aircraft.

 

One of the most disappointing aspects of my many years in this metropolis has been to witness the wholesale destruction of most of what was most beautiful in our city. At the present moment it is the harbour, the very essence of Hong Kong – the “ Fragrant Harbour ”- our most valuable remaining possession, that is disappearing.

 

There is a total lack of esteem or regard shown by the vast majority of Hong Kong ’s population, including most sadly, those in positions of power and in the travel industry, to appreciate what this historically significant city possesses. It is purely the money earning capability of a place, or site, that will draw any attention from of the city fathers or the tourism industry.

 

Hong Kong, and Concorde Travel, the business I started back in 1978, has provided me with the opportunity to spend a lifetime travelling.

 

I first visited Hong Kong in 1967. It was the final destination of my first “overseas” trip. I flew with “B.O.A.C.”, (British Overseas Airways Corporation) on one of their brand new “Boeing 707’s”, from Sydney to Singapore .

 

I shall never forget my first night away from Australia . It was probably around midnight when I arrived at the venerable old Singapore YMCA, long since demolished. It was hot and steamy, as always, and I had never experienced heat like it. It was also very dark, except for the incredible pulsating of enormous neon signs, the likes of which I had never seen before.

 

A tall, forbidding man, a Sikh, with a huge trimmed beard and a shotgun, met me at the gloomy entrance of the “Y”. Because it was in the early hours of the morning, there was nobody on duty at Reception, so the Sikh had to escort me upstairs to my room. The heavy bedroom door closed firmly behind me and I found myself, all alone, in a dark and stifling room, which was intermittently flooded with colourful light from the blazing neon signs opposite. The windows were barred and glassless. It was all quite frightening.

 

Anyway, that first trip away, taught me a lot. In the innocence of youth, everything fell into place and I met wonderful and interesting people and saw some incredible sights, long before the tourist hordes.

 

In a motorbike rickshaw outside Angkor Wat,  Cambodia,  in 1967.

 

On an MSA, Malaysia Singapore Airlines, "Comet", a fiercely noisy aircraft, I found myself sitting next to the brother of Tunku Abdul Rahman, the first Prime Minister of Malaysia. He invited me home to dinner with his family. I enjoyed dinner with Australia ’s Trade Commissioner to Thailand at his official residence in Bangkok .  In those days, Bangkok was still a city of canals and the Trade Commissioner’s residence, which was a magnificent old colonial style bungalow, was set on a beautiful and serene waterway in the very heart of Bangkok . I spoke with, but missed the opportunity of meeting, the Australian Ambassador in Phnom Penh , who had also invited me to dinner. It was the eve of the Vietnam War and the tension in the country led me to make a hasty departure for Hong Kong . I had enjoyed several days of solitude at Angkor Wat,

 

                                                                                                   Sightseeing at Angkor Wat in 1967.

On top of one of the Pyramids at Giza, Egypt, in 1981.

 

 

where there were no tourists to speak of, but where there was such an air of discomfort in the air that I very reluctantly decided to miss the opportunity of meeting our Ambassador and visiting the city of Phnom Penh . The Cathay Pacific "Electra" on Phnom Penh's tarmac looked simply too inviting and I had already had some pretty rough experiences with Royal Air Cambodge. I jumped into a taxi and managed to see the Royal Palace and the River Mekong before the Cathay Pacific flight took off. 

 

On top of one of the Pyramids, Giza, Egypt. 1981. 

 

 

 

 

 

The Dutch travel company, for whom I was working in Melbourne , moved me to Hong Kong as Manager in 1977. The Manager I was replacing was a German who had opened his own business literally across the road and was taking virtually all of the Dutch company’s customers with him.

 

It was a very rough time for me, primarily because I had never heard of the word “discount” in Australia. Australia ’s few and largely up-market international travellers at that time, would never have dreamed of discussing a discount.

 

My most unpleasant Assistant Manager, added to my difficulties. She was very bitter that she had not been given my position.

 

Ten months after I arrived in Hong Kong, after having packed up and left Melbourne within less than a week, the parent company of the company for whom I was working, started to wind down internationally. Being an expensive expatriate employee, I suddenly found myself out of work and on the streets of Hong Kong .

 

I had been in Hong Kong long enough to have decided that I loved the place. I would give it a go and open my own shop.

 

I found a tiny office in an old building, Edinburgh House, next door to Marina House, on the top floor of which was the wonderful Australian Club premises. These two buildings were on the site of the present day Landmark complex in Central.

 

One of the first people I met doing business in Hong Kong , was “Suzie Wong”, the actress Nancy Kwan. This worried my Presbyterian parents.

 

Concorde Travel was in those early days, the unofficial Australian Tourist Commission. We were given the royal treatment by many visiting Australian dignitaries. We were paid a visit by Neil Brown, later to become the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party under John Howard and I put in some interesting time with the enigmatic Don Dunstan, who had become the Director of Tourism for Victoria. He was visiting China to buy the glazed tiles for the reconstruction of the archway in Melbourne ’s Chinatown .

 

Those were the good old days. We thought it was hard to make a dollar then, but we didn’t know how lucky we were.

 

Concorde Travel’s best clients were the British civil service and we were fortunate to have been the chosen travel agent of the Commander British Forces for many years. When a new General would arrive, we would be introduced as the travel agent, along with the tailor, hairdresser and the favourite restaurant etc.

 

At the time of the "Handover " in 1997, Hong Kong ’s last Commander British Forces suggested that I should pack my bags. He was of the opinion that following his departure, among other things, the triads would be after us for protection money. Fortunately nothing like this has ever happened.

 

Before Australia ’s national carrier Qantas decided to compete head-on with its travel agents, we had many Australian clients. I shall never forget the last time one of my favorite Australian customers came to see me. She had been booking with us for some years and was the President of the Australian Association. “We can’t book with you any more”, Jill Wilson sadly told me. From now on “we must buy our tickets direct from the airline”. We were very disappointed to lose so many loyal customers because of this unacceptable situation.

 

It was with considerable sadness that I heard of Jill’s recent passing in Adelaide .

 

I have been living and working in Hong Kong for 28 years now and despite the serious ups and downs of recent years, I am enjoying living here more than ever.

 

Just before the "Handover" in 1997, I became a little concerned about how things might turn out and decided to find a safe haven back in Australia just in case. Like so many others in Hong Kong , I discovered beautiful Noosa Heads. The real estate market was at a low and it was probably the best business decision I ever made. As it has turned out, I have not had to leave Hong Kong and I have the Noosa property rented on holiday lets. Several Concorde Travel clients have stayed at my property.

 

Although I lived in Mid-Levels for many years, when Hong Kong’s “First Ferry” company decided to commence a thirty minute, 24 hour, high-speed ferry service to the island of Cheung Chau , I decided that I would move into my week-ender full-time. I had owned the little place on the hill since the first few months of arriving in Hong Kong .

 

Cheung Chau is not the place it was in “Fat Larry’s” time, for those who remember him, but I still love living there. It is so rural and exotic. I don’t plan to leave until I can no longer make it up the hundred or so steps.

 

It seems that the wonderful old Hong Kong of yore might be coming back? Let’s hope so. If it does, Concorde Travel and I will be around for a few years yet.