Excuse me, dahrlings, but...

What’s Japan Got To Do With It?

For decades, Pumpkins, we dealt with all manner of handsy Brits crossing the pond to run the Canadian travel landscape. Signature, NALG, Thomas Cook, even iTravel for a time. 

Since allegiance to the Queen is part of our national psyche, we knew how to bow and scrape before our British masters. Unfortunately, they never quite got the knack of a sparsely populated country with 2 seasons. 

They ran the companies into the ground then ran away. 

And just as everything is humming along quite nicely, the Japanese step in. 

I have to tell you, Pumpkins, I did not see that coming. Americans, yes. Maybe even the Chinese who own half the planet anyway. 

First the Japanese bought Merit and promptly swept out all the ‘thews’ - Mama, Papa and little baby Merrithew. 

Now they’ve bought Red Label and all those previous MyTravel brands that Thomas Cook sold to the DeMarinis brothers for a song after buying their company a decade earlier for more than what they paid to Thomas Cook. Never mind. 

Point is, Pumpkins, Japanese conglomerate H.I.S. now owns Sunquest, Holiday House, Encore Cruises, iTravel, etc. 

Honestly, dahrlings, those brands have been passed around more than I have. 

It’s a little disconcerting to see once venerable Grade A brand names be sold off like second hand scraps. “Gently Used Vintage Travel Brands” “No offer too small” 

Oh gawd. I used to be somebody!

No doubt bagging the AirMiles contract did not hurt those negotiations one bit. 

The question on everybody’s lips this morning is, of course, will the Japanese keep all 3 brothers. I mean, all the Merits are out on the street, despite having part of their name on the building. 

Ivanna Gabbalot

Ivanna Gabbalot Columnist

Part legend, part myth, all woman: Ivanna Gabbalot is OJ’s gossip columnist and considers herself the industry’s conscience. Equally annoying to Open Jaw management and inflated egos in C-suites everywhere, Ivanna touches topics others fear to tackle.



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