Sydney, Nsw Australia (PressExposure) June 25, 2008 -- Despite rising global uncertainty in the travel environment, industry leader Tourism Holdings Limited (THL) remains as committed as ever to investing in quality products and design, environmental leadership, technological infrastructure and its key markets. Owner and operator of campervan rental brands Maui, Britz and Backpacker, and one of the most experienced organisations in the Australasian tourism industry, THL's Australasian Rentals division achieved record operating earnings (EBIT) of AUD24.5m for the year ending June 2007, a 19.5% lift on the previous year. THL has committed to a $50 million fleet upgrade in the year ahead.
The 2008 - 2009 Maui, Britz and Backpacker fleet upgrade is marked by the launch of new vehicle designs, new models and a fleet of Mercedes-Benz motorhomes. THL has opened a purpose-built manufacturing facility in New Zealand, in addition to its existing Melbourne factory. Between the two production facilities, more than 900 campervans are set to roll off the line.
"Running our own manufacturing facilities allows THL to retain design and quality control, plus we can ensure that modern, sustainable manufacturing methods are employed," says Chris Rusden, COO of THL Rentals. "Mercedes-Benz was selected as a partner, not only because the brand is renowned for quality, but also because it is a world leader in emission engine management and recycling at end-of-life, which supports our firm stance on environmental responsibility."
In addition to adding new vehicles to the core fleet, THL has expanded its product range with six additional categories to hit the road this season: the Maui Spirit 2 Grande and Maui 4WD deluxe, the Backpacker Breezer sleeper-van, the Britz Escape 5 Berth, Britz Safari 4WD and Britz Motorcycles (BMWs and Harley Davidsons).
In a first for the industry, the entire 2WD Maui fleet in Australia will be on customer-friendly automatic transmissions.
"In uncertain economic times, the smart companies will make it a priority to invest in their products and services to be well positioned for ongoing growth," says Rusden. "We know that long-term strategic investment in our markets is a key to success, regardless of the short-term economic climate."
Since the company's inception over two decades ago, THL has made it a priority to support its overseas markets with regionally-based sales staff. Currently it has senior account management teams in London, Munich and Los Angeles. The recent appointment of Stephen Hart as Business Development Manager for Europe represents a further investment in these markets. This commitment to THL's trade partners is further supported by a new dedicated 24/7 reservations and B2B Support centre.
Chris Rusden, COO- Rentals, THL has overall responsibility for THL Rentals businesses of Maui, Britz and Backpacker in Australia and New Zealand. His strategic focus is on the escalation of the customer experience and the cementing of THL Rentals as the leading leisure vehicle rental company in the world via product and process innovation. Chris joined THL Rentals in 2001 as General Manager Operations and has been COO since 2003. Previously, he was Director of Operations for Hertz Australia for nine years.
Stephen Hart, Business Development Manager, THL began his career with THL in Customer Services and subsequently developed his significant knowledge and expertise in the tourism industry though roles with Tourism NZ in Europe, and then as Sales and Marketing Director of the online travel company, Camperboerse, based in Munich.