Travel agent celebrates 35 years as a specialist in Latin America
This weekend, 14 Calgarians will set off on a special tour of South America led by George Romberg, who will be celebrating 35 years since he opened a travel business in Calgary.
Organized by Romberg ’s Magic Tours & Travel, The President’s Tour includes guided visits to Lima/Cusco, Machu Picchu, Mendoza, Iguazu Falls and Buenos Aires, giving vacationers his experience of more than three decades of specializing in travel to Latin America.
Romberg has built Magic Tours into the first choice for packaged tours throughout Western Canada, serving Mexico, Central and South America.
Born in a small town in Argentina, Romberg says his mother felt that her son should learn English and, when he was six, sent him on his bicycle every day to learn from Mrs. Robertson, an English lady living close by.
His love of languages took him to Buenos Aires University, and after graduation he worked as a translator in commerce and the legal sector, then for nine years he was employed by Argentina Airlines, helping engineers and mechanics understand the specific procedures for British Aircraft Corp. One Eleven airliners.
Romberg was fortunate to have been accepted as a Rotary exchange student that had him living in Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island for a year. He says living with families there opened his eyes to Canada and he was approved to move here in 1978. His memorable arrival in Calgary was one day before the Stampede Parade, and looking for work the following Monday was a tough proposition, but he knocked on doors and found employment with a travel agent along 17th Avenue S.W., which provided him with necessary local experience.
After two years with Travel Connections in Market Mall he was made manager, and then it was downtown to work as sales manager for Whiteside World Travel in Calgary Place, where his wife, Monica, was working for Mexicana Airlines.
Then, Mexicana closed its Calgary office and Whiteside closed his office, wanting him to relocate into Elveden House. But a good client who appreciated Romberg ’s service persuaded him to open his own agency and stay in Calgary Place.
He did, and decided to concentrate on tour packages to Latin America. It wasn’t an easy start, because at that time tourists had to fly to Montreal Dorval and transfer to Mirabelle airport by bus. But thanks to his travel experience and knowledge of the Latin market, he was able to establish wonderful relationships with suppliers and destination companies — many of which he still uses today — and Magic Tours quickly became the agency to go to for regional peace of mind, professionalism and reliability.
Over the years Romberg has been involved in Calgary’s Latin community and is visible at many Spanish-speaking events, while also producing and hosting twice-weekly talk shows in Spanish on 947FM.
A frequent supporter of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, seven years ago — after buying raffle tickets at performances for trips overseas and having a promotional table at concerts with Latin content — he asked if he could provide a tour. Romberg says getting involved with the CPO was the best marketing decision he ever made. Magic Tours donates trips for two people and his table is prominent at every performance.
The Calgary office has a staff of five full-time and two part-time specialists in Latin America who cater to tourists from across Western Canada looking for a dream vacation on one of the most colourful, diverse and adventure-filled places on Earth.
It’s too bad the Calgary HandiBus Foundation will close in early 2019. President and CEO Pat Pelligrino says that three years ago the organization moved the operation of its buses to Calgary Transit, which has served its customers well. But he says it was deemed that the cost of continuing to operate the charity, which like many others has suffered from a significant drop in donations, is not a responsible use of the resources provided by supporters. Any funds remaining will be donated to the Calgary Foundation and other not-forprofits providing transportation and mobility options to the city’s disabled community. Since its inception in 1971-72, Calgary HandiBus has purchased 437 buses and, with the City of Calgary, provided more than 16 million trips.
George Romberg of Magic Tours and Travel.