Retiring travel agent moored for now

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Retiring Dunedin travel agent Murray Patterson (71) relaxes at home. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON.
Retiring Dunedin travel agent Murray Patterson (71) relaxes at home. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON.
Huge disruption from the Covid-19 pandemic had contributed to Dunedin travel agent Murray Patterson’s decision to retire after 51 years in the business.

Terrorist attacks and aircraft hijackings disrupted the air travel industry in the late 1960s and early ’70s, Mr Patterson recalled yesterday.

Volcanic eruptions in Iceland had also caused short-term flight chaos in 2010.

However, those problems were minor compared with the massive effects of Covid-19, which had shut down much international travel, subjecting airlines and cruise ship companies to heavy financial pressure and forcing some travel agents out of business.

He had closed his company, and another firm, World Travellers Motueka, was taking over the business.

He had done quite a bit of flying over the years, but generally gained little pleasure from it.

However, things are completely different when he nears a cruise ship, before going on a big trip.

"The excitement, it’s almost electric for me, the people going up the gangway, the buzz when you get on board.

"You know it’s going to be phenomenal," he said.

For many years and for many people, he has been an ambassador for the world of international cruises, and has noticed one intriguing pattern of human behaviour.

Almost invariably it is the wife, or female partner, who suggests the first cruise, the male being at first reluctant.

However, often he has found the man a convert and keen to book the next cruise himself.

Born in Nelson, Mr Patterson grew up in Dunedin, attending King’s High School, and had an early fondness for travel.

In 1966 he began his first real job as a junior office worker at Dalgety New Zealand Ltd, and later missed out on a job in the firm’s travel department.

He left the firm and travelled to Melbourne in 1968 aboard the cruise ship Achille Lauro.

After living for some time in Australia, he returned to New Zealand and worked as a travel agent, initially in Invercargill in 1969, then later in Alexandra. His first travel job in Dunedin was with Travelwright Services Ltd.

He has been a self-employed travel agent since 2001, operating initially as Holiday Shoppe in the Octagon, later as Patterson Cruise & Travel, and lastly as Mondo Travel Dunedin.

He has worked from his home for the past seven years.

In retirement he will spend more time gardening , and he and his wife Judy plan to travel more in the South, including to Stewart Island.

He is optimistic that the international travel industry, including cruise ships, will survive, albeit with a requirement for Covid-19 vaccination certificates for passengers and crew.

"But I don’t sit around waiting and hoping and thinking it’s all going to come back.

I’ll let others worry about that."

john.gibb@odt.co.nz

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