‘It is an emotional time’: The Joneses say goodbye to Tropical Journeys

PORT DOUGLAS

Mark Murray

Journalist

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Part of the iconic Calypso fleet heading out to the Great Barrier Reef from Port Douglas. IMAGE: Supplied.

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PORT Douglas tourism pioneer Cathie Jones admits it has been ‘an emotional time’ following the sale of the iconic Tropical Journeys this week.

Cathie and her husband Graham sold the reef charter company to adventure tourism dynamo Experience Co yesterday in a deal that sent shockwaves around the region.

Coincidentally, the news was confirmed 25 years to the day since the pair decided to move to Port Douglas from Sydney 'for a sea change' after working in the plastic manufacturing industry.

“It is an emotional time as it has been our baby,” Cathie told Newsport.

“But we're also very excited to be handing the business over to a very professional Australian company who will make our great products even better.”

Tropical Journeys and their flagship reef charter Calypso have become synonymous with Port Douglas since commencing operations 18 years ago.

The Joneses launched their first boat in June of 1999, yet will hand over six to the new owners in the New Year including the Calypso and Aquarius operations, and Daintree Tours. They've built 11 vessels in total, six of which have been sold and are now operating around Australia and New Zealand.

Graham said he was proud of the 'evolution' of Tropical Journeys.

“Calypso has been in our family for 18 years,” he said.

“This is its next exciting stage and we feel confident that the business will continue to thrive with the involvement of Experience Co.

“We have a great team in Port Douglas and we want to thank them all.”

Cathie said it would be business as usual for all current staff of Tropical Journeys.

Her sons, Adam, Chris and Tony, had all signed two-year contracts with Experience Co and will work for the new company within their reef and rainforest operation.

“Our three sons will still be heavily involved in the next stage,” she said.

“We (Graham and Cathie) will be there to assist in the handover and anything they made need in the future.

“We’re very proud of what we’ve achieved and thank all those who have supported us - our fantastic staff, local agents and businesses in Port Douglas and Cairns.”

Adam Jones said it was a great opportunity for everyone involved with the companies.

“My brothers and I are very excited to be involved in the next chapter," he said.

The recently renamed Experience Co started as a small skydive operation in Wollongong and has grown to become Australia’s leading adventure tourism company.

It acquired Tropical Journeys and Big Cat Green Island Reef Cruises yesterday for just over $56 million, and expect the two operations to improve its earnings in the first year by $11.1 million.

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