Long-standing business closes

THE doors at the Whitsunday Travel Centre (WTC) will close for the final time tomorrow (Friday) bringing an iconic business on the Airlie Beach main street to an end.

Owners Eric Bottle and Dale Hell decided it was the right time to end their reign as the operators of the longest surviving business in the main street.

Mr Bottle said WTC had survived many obstacles over the past 27 years but could no longer maintain its place in the current economic climate.

“It's a sad day,” he said.

Mr Bottle will keep his agents licence and will now work from home.

“WTC has survived the pilots strike, 9/11, Compass and Ansett Airlines collapses, innumerable floods and road closures, even cyclone Ului, but the loss to the main street of most banks, the Post Office and far too many other businesses aggravated by the global financial downturn, has made down town Airlie a non viable location.”

Mr Bottle and Ms Hell bought WTC in 1983 from Jean and John Clements.

Back then it was the major booking office for boats sailing out of Shute Harbour, which was at that stage, the only mainland marina in the region.

Mr Bottle's vision though was far beyond this as he converted the business into the first international and domestic travel agency in Airlie Beach.

Over the years the pair has seen thousands of locals and tourists use their services with many highlights along the way.

“The most enjoyable thing was having clients that accept our advice and come back to thank you,” Mr Bottle said.

“You meet so many people from so many places in the world through the business and the lifestyle,” Ms Hell said.

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