Vladimir Raitz (23 May 1922 – 31 August 2010), was the Moscow-born founder of Horizon Holidays, one of the earliest businesses to offer chartered, all-inclusive holidays, and subsequently emulated by many others.
Vladimir was born to a Jewish family that fled Moscow for Berlin in 1927 before having to flee there also during the rise of Hitler. After arriving in the UK, he was educated at Mill Hill School and the London School of Economics, later working as a translator for a news agency during the Second World War. In 1949, he holidayed in Corsica, where the idea that would become Horizon was conceived. By the following year, with inheritance money from his grandmother, Vladimir was able to charter a government-surplus Dakota DC3 to fly 11 paying passengers to Corsica. From here, the company would go on to fly clients to Malaga, Mallorca and the Costa Brava, becoming one of the UK’s biggest tour operators in the process.
By the 1960s, the industry had seen phenomenal growth, with millions of Britons holidaying abroad each year. In 1965, newspaper publishing group the Thomson Organisation tasked Vladimir with acquiring two package holiday companies, Riviera Holidays and Sky Tours, which were merged along with a smaller carrier, Britannia Airways, to form Thomson Holidays. In 1970, he founded Club 18-30. A difficult political climate in the mid-1970s saw the collapse of Horizon, but Vladimir continued to offer package holidays in his new role as managing director of Medallion Holidays, and also organised tours on behalf of the Maltese Tourist Board.
Vladimir remained a firm presence for many years in the industry he had pioneered, in his seventies helping to launch a programme of cigar tours to Cuba, and also playing an active part in ABTA.
Vladimir was honoured by the British Travel & Hospitality Hall of Fame in 1995.