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1985 – 1995

Albatross Tours was started in a small office in West Hampstead, North London by Sally & Manfred Thelen in 1985 although they soon decided to move out to the beautiful county of Kent in 1986.

Selling wholesale accommodation packages to continental Europe to a small number of coach operators in the UK, Sally & Manfred were soon joined by their friends Erich Silbermayr and Trish Condon who launched Albatross Incoming Tours in 1987 to cater for the domestic needs of UK coach operators whilst also servicing inbound groups from the USA and Germany.

These first few years in the life of these new businesses was a rollercoaster ride that included the high of handling all of the ground arrangements in the UK for Michael Jackson’s infamous 1988 ‘Bad Tour’ to their largest client going bust owing them tens of thousands of pounds in only their second year of trading!

Despite the occasional setback, their own tenacity, expertise and ambition combined with that of their team saw Albatross Tours win its first industry award as Wholesaler of the Year in 1994 as sales for both companies grew to just under £5m by the end of their first 10 years in business.


1995 – 2008

From 1995 onwards, things started to move forward rapidly as Albatross entered into a joint venture with Euan Landsborough in Brisbane, Australia to start a business that would use the buying power of the UK companies to form the foundations for a what would become a very successful Australian escorted tour operator to Europe that would also handle ad hoc group requests.

In 1997, Albatross Tours and Albatross Incoming Tours merged to form The Albatross Travel Group in order to better serve both its UK and overseas coach operator customers. This move was quickly followed in 1999 by the acquisition of Success Tours in Trowbridge near Bath and later the purchase of Leisure Breaks in 2007, which was to become Albatross London and was eventually merged with Albatross Travel.

Between 1995 and 2008 the companies won a whole host of awards including Albatross Travel being voted Tour Wholesaler of the Year in multiple years with Success Tours also being voted Group Tour Operator of the Year on two occasions.  Albatross was also recognised as the Mid Kent Business of the Year in 1998 and saw Albatross become an Investor in People and also make it onto the Sunday Times Top 100 Small Companies to Work For in three consecutive years.


2008 – 2016

In 2008, Sean Taggart and Steve Hornby purchased the Albatross Group from the original founders who remained non-executive directors until 2012.

Since then, the Group continued to grow and win industry awards including  Wholesaler of the Year and Group Tour Operator of the Year on multiple occasions. During this period Albatross became a much more active member of its local communities through the foundation of a charity fund in memory of Claire Foster, who died tragically young of P.O.E.M.S disease, raising money for charities and good causes throughout the UK and sponsorship of a young British Olympic hopeful.

During 2012, Albatross Travel Group was rebranded as Albatross Travel and this year also saw the birth of brand new business in the Group, Scenic & Continental Car Tours Ltd., established to create and deliver an exciting a range of holidays for the driving enthusiast.

In 2013 the Group acquired London Hotels & Travel Services (LHTS) to offer an enhanced range of hotels and other services in London. Along with Albatross London, LHTS was subsequently merged into Albatross Travel thus providing UK coach operators with a one-stop shop for wholesale accommodation packages throughout the UK, Ireland and continental Europe. Albatross Travel was again voted Wholesaler of the Year in 2013.

During 2014 the growth in Albatross Tours in Australia saw them to move into new and larger offices in Brisbane and Success Tours was voted Tour Operator of the year at the Group Leisure Awards. The Group’s online business,, won Innovation of the Year at the Coach Tourism Awards in the same year.

In 2015 Albatross Tours Australia were nominated in the National Travel Industry Awards, Albatross Travel were again voted Wholesaler of the Year at the Coach Tourism Awards and Success Tours were once more voted Tour Operator of the year.


The Present Day

In 2016 Sean Taggart stepped down as Chief Executive to become a non-executive director and in 2017 Sean sold his entire shareholding to his former business partner Steve Hornby and Group Chief Financial Officer, Adam Handy.

2021 once again saw Albatross Travel voted Wholesaler of the Year at the Coach Tourism Awards.

In 2022, Albatross bought Backwater Classic Car Tours. Founded by Paul and Linda Trill in 2010, as an outlet for their extensive experience of car touring in their Jaguar. The original ethos remains today, namely taking you to quiet backwaters, scenic routes and lesser-known drives and destinations. Backwater Classic Car Tours, now a trading name of Albatross Motoring Limited, is the perfect complement to Scenic Car Tours.

Throughout its history the Group has always performed strongly, never making a loss, and today has combined annual sales of over £30m across six brands. For more information about the Albatross Group click here.