PHOTO: Isramworld's Richard Krieger. (Photo courtesy of Isramworld)
IsramWorld, a global tour operator group based in New York City, resigned from the U.S. Tour Operators Association effective June 17. Richard Krieger, the company president, told TravelPulse the move is a temporary exit. Krieger said the company is going through a restructuring and hopes to return to USTOA after the completion of its restructuring "with a company that feels different."
In resigning from the association, IsramWorld is no longer covered by the USTOA $1 Million Travelers Assistance Program as of June 17.
The IsramWorld group includes a number of branded tour operations in different parts of the world and catering to various special interest markets. The tour brands include Latour, EuropeToo, Isram, Elite Travel Collection, Asian Vistas, Belder Gray, Prideworld and A Women's View.
The restructuring of Isram, said Krieger, is "a multi-phase project" that began in 2013 with the shifting of the ownership and operation of Israel tours to the Israel branch of the company. The rest of the global product is owned and operated from Isram's New York office. After the Israel operation was moved to Israel, the rest of the company turned its focus to global expansion of its other product lines.
"Now we are in the last leg of our ultimate goal," said Krieger, to focus the IsramWorld portfolio as a global travel provider and to make sure our partners are more aware we are a global travel provider."
IsramWorld operates tours in 56 countries on five continents. It has been a member of USTOA since 1980.
Isram World of Travel was founded in1967 as a retail operation by American-based Israeli trade unionists with the purpose of forging a link between American Jews and Israel. It began as a single-destination operation at that time, specializing in travel to Israel. In 1969 it shifted to a wholesale business model, selling through travel agents, a policy it has continued until today.
The late Ady Gelber, who was Isram's chairman when he died last April, joined Isram as president in 1979, after seven years working as the district sales manager for El Al, the Israeli airline, in St. Louis, Mo.
READ MORE: Remembering Isramworld's Ady Gelber
Gelber had begun his career in travel in Israel in 1960 as a ticketing agent with El Al. Later he worked as an airport traffic manager for Alitalia in Israel. And when El Al offered him a job in the U.S. he took off for America.
When Gelber joined Isram 90 percent of the business was travel to Israel, with 10 percent coming from extensions to Greece on Israel packages. Gelber set the company on track to grow and diversify. He began with an internal growth plan, expanding Isram's programs throughout the Middle East, the Mediterranean region and Eastern Europe. Then he took on a program of expansion by acquisition.
Gelber expanded Isram into a global operator with the purchase of Orient Flexi-Pax for Asia; Escapade Vacations for Spain, Portugal and Morocco; AIMS Travel for tours for doctors; and Jewish Heritage Tours for travel throughout Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia, the Mediterranean and Latin America; and Latour for tours of Latin America .
Terry Dale, president and CEO of USTOA, said in a press release, "We look forward to welcoming IsramWorld back as a member in the future."
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