Around the world for 50 years with Direct Travel Service – Reflections of Ponoka

Shown is the 1984 staff of Direct Travel Service Ltd. Susan Erickson

This month Direct Travel Service Ltd. of Ponoka will celebrate 50 exciting and successful years of creating spectacular holidays and serving the many travel needs of customers from the community, districts and afar.

It all started back in May of 1961 when Ernie Jamison, John Low, and Charlie Knox formed a partnership and opened their first travel office in the Ponoka Herald building at the north end of 50th Street.

Former Canadian Pacific Railway Ponoka station agent Charles Knox was the first manager of Direct Travel Service Ltd., which received its initial International Air Transport appointment to issue airline tickets through Trans Canada Airlines, which later became Air Canada.

Yours truly was fortunate enough to be working as a student in that busy newspaper office, and during my lunch hours I loved to sit with Mr. Knox and watch him seek out and arrange travel plans across Canada or around the world for excited would be family fun-seekers or business commuters.

The wall of his office was lined with spectacular posters, photos, and brochures of the massive Queen Mary and other luxury steamships and modern airlines that offered to host thousands of families on oceanic and air excursions to exotic countries and tourist hot-spots throughout the world.

In those days passports were only required for immigrants travelling into a new country, most of the commercial airlines were still propeller models, they allowed smoking on their flights and all had a delightful contingent of in-flight stewardesses in bright uniforms. The now massive cruise ship industry was just coming into being then, as young and old dreamed of taking the romantic excursions and adventures that were featured on television’s ‘Love Boat,’ as well as winter getaways to the sun and sand, or a chance to get close and personal with an iceberg in Alaska.

For many years Direct Travel Service hosted its popular Cruise Nights to give Ponoka and district residents a magnificent display of the holiday destinations and dreams that were available on these magnificent floating hotels, which now go much faster and hold up to 5,000 passengers!

In 1975, Mr. Knox and his wife, Ethel, who was a prominent community music teacher and mentor, decided to retire, and Direct Travel Service Limited was relocated to a new office just a few doors down from the Herald office. The next and final move for Direct Travel was to relocate to the offices of John W. Low Agencies Inc. at 5118-50th Street. At this time, Theresa Turner would join the John W. Low partnership of Direct Travel, and then in 2002 Andrew Low replaced his father in this successful and ongoing business venture.

Direct Travel has proudly strived to play a major role in all facets of the Ponoka community, through sponsorships of clubs, organizations and community events. Some of their favourites along the way have been the avid support of 4-H clubs, Lioness Win-A-Flight Night, Ponoka Ladies Golf Club, the Kinette and Kinsmen Clubs and the Ponoka Outreach School.

Theresa Turner has also played an active and ongoing role as an avid promoter of the Ponoka community. She has served as the president of the Ponoka Chamber Of Commerce, chairperson of the Ponoka Economic Development and Tourism Board, she was a founding member of the Ponoka Rising Sun Club House, and she can always be found at a host of year-round community activities and events.

How the travel industry has changed

As Direct Travel Service celebrates its 50th anniversary milestone, manager Theresa Turner fondly recalls all the many wonderful clients she has met over the years, as well as the dedicated staff members she has worked with along the way. One of the first major advancements at the busy Direct Travel Service office was acquiring an automatic ticket printer in 1979, then later an automated reservation system. Before this, all the travel preparation from start to finish was done by hand with many hours on the telephones.

Theresa explained that two major factors have completely re-shaped the travel industry over the years that she has been involved in the business. Number 1 is that we have truly become a tourist paradise within a completely global world. With access to more than 50,000 daily flights around the world, as well as a variety of ground and oceanic transportation and tourist support, Direct Travel is able to send clients to absolutely anywhere they may wish to go on any given day.

The second big factor in the industry change is the technology that has transformed the world from the old black rotary telephone, on which every travel detail had to be booked and confirmed, to the speed and safety of online search and booking secure engines. Ninety percent of the business is now booked through dedicated travel agency secure booking sites, and surprisingly, because of this technology, a reputable travel adviser is more important than ever.

Mrs. Turner stressed that unfortunately the Internet has now become a fraud haven for travellers booking without the proper secured sites.

Direct Travel and Cruise Centre is proud to have served Ponoka and district for 50 years, as well as assisting clientele from throughout Canada. They have received many national awards over the years, and this great staff team is widely respected by their peers and their many wonderful clients for their expertise and friendly dedicated service.

The present staff at Direct Travel and Cruise Centre are: Theresa Turner, Ramona Joyes, Kerry Bonnett, Diane Barnes, and Kahla Rakai, and they always look forward to assisting you with all your travel needs.

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