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Tranzit sets sail into tourism expansion

Tranzit Group operations director Keven Snelgrove, centre left, accepting the Trust House Supreme Award with his brother and managing director, Paul Snelgrove, centre right, alongside NZ First MP Ron Mark and Trust House Foundation deputy chairwoman Mena Antonio at the inaugural Wairarapa Awards held last year. PHOTO/LUCIA ZANMONTI

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Masterton-based Tranzit is taking the expansion of its traditional road passenger transport business InterCity Group into tourism ventures up a gear with the rebranding of the business as Entrada Travel Group and the purchase of a dolphin tour business.

The company announced the Entrada move last week and on Monday Entrada said it was acquiring Auckland Whale and Dolphin Safari.

Entrada Travel Group chief executive John Thorburn said the acquisition would complement the group’s existing range of Auckland tourism and maritime businesses.

“The Auckland Whale and Dolphin Safari team delivers an amazing experience to visitors to Auckland and we see great synergies with our existing sightseeing products and global sales channels.”

Operating from Auckland’s prestigious Viaduct Harbour, the company hosts thousands of guests every year onboard the 20 metre catamaran Dolphin Explorer, and is well placed to capitalise when Auckland hosts the America’s Cup in 2021.

The acquisition takes effect on August 1, with all staff retained.

Last week Tranzit managing director Paul Snelgrove said InterCity as a name no longer fitted a business which owned 19 boats in Australia after buying North Queensland dive and cruise businesses Divers Den and TUSA Group last year and combining them.

“We have ambitious plans for growth in both New Zealand and Australia,” Entrada chief executive John Thorburn said.

Entrada is 46.5 per cent owned by Tranzit and 46.5 per cent by Ritchies and is already one of Australasia’s fastest-growing tourism and transport companies.

Entrada Travel Group operates New Zealand’s largest coach network with more than 150 services every day. It also owns the low-cost express bus service Skip, launched last year.

InterCity as a business traces its origins back to the New Zealand Railways Road Services long-distance routes and in 1987 became the brand for long-distance rail and road services.

In 1991 the rail-based assets were transferred to New Zealand Rail and the long-distance buses and the InterCity name were bought by a group of seven of the country’s largest private coach companies, including Tranzit.

Snelgrove said the national bus network would remain Entrada’s largest business.

The expansion into tourism began in 2006 with the purchase of Kings Dolphin Cruises, a Paihia-based operator.

Later, Great Sights and Fullers Bay of Islands were added and the company also has won a licence to operate sightseeing services in New Zealand as Gray Line, the world’s largest sightseeing brand.

The company said the new identity lays the foundation for an ongoing expansion in Australasia.

Snelgrove would say only that the company would invest where opportunities came up but he was interested in businesses in other states in Australia.

“To be clear, InterCity buses are still our biggest business. Our domestic market is still a very big part of our overall business.

“When tourism is good it is good and when it is bad it is bad. It is like farming, it is up and down.”

He said the company now had a lot of money invested in tourism businesses and it was prepared to take the good with the bad.

“We expect to see a downturn later this year but we are prepared for that.”

Entrada Travel Group has 12 tourism and transport brands and employs more than 700 staff directly and through franchise agreements.

He said the company had a very good team at the InterCity head office in Auckland and even though he was working seven days a week he had no regrets.

“It’s no good having regrets – life is too short for regrets.”

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