Tributes have been paid to industry veteran Richard Tobias, who died on January 8 after a short illness.
Tobias, chairman of the Best Loved Group for the past 10 years, was aged 69. He was awarded an OBE in 1998 for services to the travel industry.
During a long career in the travel, tourism and hospitality sector, Tobias was director general of the Tourism Alliance between 2004-2006, and before that, chief executive of Bitoa, now known as UKinbound, from 1994-2004.
He was recognised by The Caterer magazine, Travel Weekly’s sister title, with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000, was a trustee of industry charity Just a Drop, and co-founder of Kids International – one of the first children’s summer camps in the UK.
His son, Marc Tobias, said: “We are naturally devastated by Dad’s death but take comfort in the fact that his was a life well-lived, and it is clear from the support and many messages of condolence that he will be remembered and missed by many, many people.”
Fiona Jeffery OBE, a friend of Tobias’s and chairman of Just a Drop, said: “ Richard Tobias OBE was an extraordinary man in so many ways.
“A passionate entrepreneur, philanthropist and industry leader. He was one of the most honest, genuine and generous people I have ever met.
“He absolutely championed Just a Drop from the outset and helped establish its credibility within the travel and tourism industry and has been a critical player in its success.
“I personally feel I’ve lost a real trusted friend as well as a real character within our industry who championed causes with passion and authority. Whilst driving us nuts at times he was lovable. Maybe his company summed up his philosophy – The Best Loved Group.”
Deirdre Wells, chief executive of UKinbound, said: “We are extremely sad to hear the news of Richard’s passing. Richard’s dedication and passion for the tourism industry was to be truly admired.
“His vision was instrumental in growing UKinbound, formerly Bitoa, into the association we have today. He brought so much to the industry, our association and our members alike and he will be sorely missed by all. Our thoughts and condolences are with his family at this difficult time.”
Tobias leaves behind his wife Brenda, two sons, Marc and Adam, and four grandchildren, Rose, Maud, Jack and Ettie.
A funeral will take place at 1pm on Tuesday (January 13) at St Marylebone Crematorium in East Finchley, and his family have indicated that they would prefer people to make a donation to Just a Drop rather than sending flowers.
Marc Tobias said: “Just a Drop was a charity he was immensely proud of, and enjoyed championing their cause. The work the charity does remains invaluable and he was pleased to have made a difference.”