On a chilly, yet extra sparkly, night (8th December 2022) in the heart of the Cotswolds; travel agency representatives and tour operators gathered for an evening of celebration at the annual CLIA Winter Ball.
Following a day of learning and inspirational moments at the CLIA Cruise Forum, we donned our best attire and settled in for a night of fun, awards and recognition. Travel Weekly’s Lucy Huxley and CLIA’s (rather hoarse) Andy Harmer presided over the events, and announced the latest inductees to the new cruise Hall of Fame.
Directly after the inductees were honoured, Avalon Waterways’ Janet Parton took to the stage, in order to recognise a person in the room that whilst not in the Hall of Fame, should be noted for their contribution to the development and support of River Cruising in the travel industry. That person was our very own Lewis Johnston.
Lewis, until May 2022, was the main contact at Travel Village Group for everything “River”… whether that was for the Tour Operators to communicate new campaigns and messages to, or to negotiate exclusive offers for the group; Lewis was the man on the ground. He has led the way for the Travel Village Group, championing River Cruising at every possible occasion; all so that our Cruise Experts could expand their portfolio to confidently include River Cruising. He has created not just one, but two amazing websites for RiverCruising.co.uk, and supported agents and cruise lines in any way he can to get River Cruising back to pre-Covid sales levels.
I asked Janet “Why Lewis?”:
The CLIA Specialist Working Group, which is formed by a group of cruise executives from the River, Luxury and Expedition sectors voted for Lewis to be awarded with our “Christmas present” for his commitment to those sectors, specifically River. He’s a genuinely great person to work with: helpful, conscientious and, during his time looking after river cruising, went above and beyond for many of the cruise lines. He’s simply a joy to work with!
A rather-overwhelmed-on-the-night Lewis has since had time to ponder how he felt about receiving the recognition, and had this to say:
For the first time in my career I was genuinely speechless when they read my name out. To be recognised for doing something you love and having a positive impact, not just within our business, but the whole sector, is a proud moment for me personally. I’d like to thank Phil for trusting me with fronting our focus on river cruising, which we both saw as a huge opportunity in the market. With the help of the rest of the Travel Village Group team, we have spent years creating special relationships with river cruise lines. Their investment and support with fam trips/educationals and training has helped us create a team of knowledgeable experts who bring river cruising to life for our valued customers. Long may this continue and I look forward to watching river cruising go from strength to strength.
Massively well deserved congratulations Lewis, from all of us at the Travel Village Group.