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Building bridges through tourism

Managing director Jaqui Preketes understands that tourism is the key to promoting world peace

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Managing director Jaqui Preketes.

12 January 2012

"I'm busy, can you come in and answer the phones, just answer the phones." Jaqui Preketes remembers the phone call from her late father in 1991 asking her to help out in the family business Cosmos Travel for a day.

Jaqui left Melbourne University that day and raced over to help her dad out by answering phones. 20 years later, she's still answering phones - as the managing director. An almost accidental entry to the industry, Jaqui has no regrets whatsoever about continuing in the family travel business. Whilst at university, her intention was to study languages to eventually work for the United Nations or any area that would allow her to promote peace and cultural understanding. Jaqui has since realised there is no better way than to promote cultural empathy and understanding than through travel. "Tourism is what opens minds for people to have a cultural understanding, tourism is what builds emotional bridges," she explains. "When you travel you come back with a completely new appreciation of where you are at and where you are headed." As Vice President of the International Institute of Peace through Tourism, Jaqui is equipped to foster and facilitate tourism initiatives which contribute to international understanding and cooperation, an improved quality of environment, the preservation of heritage, to help bring about a peaceful and sustainable world. "The spin off of what we do is we have to take care of our world," she says.

Established in 1991 by her late father, Cosmos Travel and Touchdown Tours is still very much a family-oriented business. Jaqui's mother works in accounts, as does her brother-in-law, and her staff that she calls the 'fantastic four' ensure that all clients receive the very best in service. Two years after the travel agency was opened, Touchdown Tours was created.

A sister company to Cosmos, Touchdown Tours is a wholesale tour operation that specialises in tours in Greece, the Greek islands, Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Dubai, Oman and Abu Dhabi. Tours are a great option for travellers who want security when travelling, want to see all a country has to offer and want to do so with expert advice and professional travel industry knowledge.

"We know that the world can be quite volatile - you have outbreaks of riots, even with the ash cloud," explains Jaqui on why tours are a better option. "Our people on the ground there, no matter where it is, will be in touch with us constantly. We are then in touch with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to always keep a track of where our clients are so if anything is happening they have the security."

Even with a tour guide, you are able to escape the hot spots of trouble and avoid dangers as they always keep abreast with current trends in their country - things that you may not know about when you travel alone. They also have strong ties with companies there and consulates in all the countries to ensure your safety is always the number one concern.

Through Touchdown Tours, you can choose to go on an already established tour or create one tailor-made for your personal needs. And with the professional advice offered by all staff members, you can be advised on the best tours to do, which hotels to stay in and what sites to visit as they have all been there, to offer you a seamless and smooth travel experience. "We have people on hand in all the countries we send out tours on to offer 24 hour services so if you want some advice on where to shop, where to eat, someone will be available to talk to," says Jaqui.

It's this personalised service that will ensure travel agents stand the test of time against the internet. And although Jaqui is first to say the internet is great for a client to research and get to know the culture and country they are going to travel to, you can never get the same service as you would with face-to-face advice, which you always get at Cosmos Travel and Touchdown Tours.

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