Harry Goodman (b. 1938) is the gregarious leisure entrepreneur who built the International Leisure Group which became one of the UK’s most successful travel businesses during the 1970s and 1980s.
Hailing from London’s East End, Harry left school at 15 and found work at a travel agency run by his next door neighbour. After a stint of National Service, he opened an employment agency on Bond Street and despite making money didn’t find the work to his taste. He sold up and bought three travel agencies, in 1973 launching Intasun, targeting the packaged holiday market. A year later, one of the UK’s largest tour operators crashed and Harry astutely reserved many of the failed company’s hotel rooms at a discount. In a matter of weeks, Intasun had sold thousands of packages. Off the success of this, he started a charter airline, Air Europe, and went public in 1981 under the umbrella of the International Leisure Group PLC.
During the 1980s, Harry made a number of well-timed sales and purchases, making $60m in 18 months from three London hotels which he bought, redeveloped, and sold on; and taking ILG private in a $273 leveraged buyout just months before the 1987 stock market crash. In the late 1980s, Air Europe took on a number of European air routes out of Gatwick, while Harry also acquired minority stakes in small airlines in Germany, Spain, Italy and Norway. Unfortunately, the 1990 Gulf War caused a spike in fuel prices and ILG lost almost $100m in only three months, filing for bankruptcy in 1991.
Harry was chief executive and chairman of International Leisure Group until its demise. In 1997, he founded TV Travel Shop, which he sold in 2002 for $100m. In 2005 he entered the cruise market, purchasing the Retail Travel Division of Page & Moy Ltd and founding Totally Travel whose major brand was 1st4cruising.
He was honoured by the British Travel & Hospitality Hall of Fame in 2002.