Roger Diski - and how he inspired me to be a better tour operator...
Tourism pioneer and founder of Rainbow Tours
12 Feb 2018
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I first met the late, great Roger Diski at a travel conference in Marrakech. Roger just seemed to be having a great time. He was always fun to be around. Over a chat in the bar, naturally, he told me his story. I was fascinated to learn about the early days of Rainbow Tours. Most people start a travel company because they love travel, not out of conviction in a political cause and the desire to see business done in a fair and ethical way.
At lunch at the Kasbah de Toubkal the next day after learning about the Kasbah’s efforts to work with local Berber women’s groups and sitting in the sun with our lamb tagine, Roger said to me, “This is f******g brilliant”. He was right. Roger had the knack of identifying experiences that were quintessentially good and I think that informed his success as a tour operator. I learnt something from that.
I was lucky to travel to Albania with Roger and a group of other agreeable folk in 2010. It was an amazing trip to an emerging travel destination and Roger loved it. Albania was unspoiled, beautiful, friendly and with a chequered political history – all favourite aspects of travel for Roger. As we trekked through the Accursed Mountains, we stayed in small farmhouses, home to local folk. Roger loved meeting the people, and spent the evenings sipping the local firewater and reading books by Albania’s most famous political novelist, Ismail Kadare.
Roger was a great mentor to me. He offered encouragement, particularly to a woman in a male-dominated business world. More importantly he showed me the benefits of working ethically. Roger always had fun, related to the people he met and aspired to be fair. That’s why people admired and respected him.
Roger's quest to be a truly responsible tour operator was completely genuine, something very unusual in the travel industry. Rarer still, he combined that with acute commercial acumen and endless propensity for fun. He was the real deal.