◄ I’m still around! On 26 September 2022 I picked up the Special Contribution Award at the annual Travel Media Awards in London. Here I am collecting it from Adel El Fakir, the CEO of the Morocco Tourist Board. I was told it was a ‘lifetime achievement’ award, which makes it sound like something you collect just before your funeral.
When Maureen and I arrived in Sydney the day after Christmas 1972, after a six month Asia overland trip from Europe, we had 27 cents left between us. In late 1973 we started Lonely Planet Publications to publish Across Asia on the Cheap, the story of our trip from London to Australia. We spent the following year travelling around South-East Asia and in early 1975 published our second book, South-East Asia on a Shoestring.
From those early guidebooks Lonely Planet Publications grew to become the world’s largest independent guidebook publisher with offices in London and Oakland as well as the head office in Melbourne.
In 2011 we completed the sale of Lonely Planet – it’s been sold twice more since – and although I no longer have any formal role with Lonely Planet I still seem to work with them fairly regularly!
I also keep busy with Planet Wheeler, the foundation Maureen and I set up after we left Lonely Planet. Then there’s the Wheeler Institute at London Business School which concentrates on entrepreneuralism and business in the developing world. Plus there’s the Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing & Ideas in Melbourne, Australia with something on most days (and nights) of the week. We also have a publishing interest with Text Publishing in Australia and I’m on the boards of Global Heritage Fund, a wonderful organisation working to protect and develop archaeological sites in the developing world and of the Australian Himalayan Foundation which works on projects with people of the Himalalya. It’s remarkable I still find time travel.