The 44th Columbus Honorary Award of the Association of German Travel Journalists (VDRJ) went to Karl B. Bock, the founder and managing director of the German specialist tour operator RUNA REISEN. The prize was presented to him at ITB Berlin 2019 at the Conference on Barrier-free Tourism, which took place for the eighth time. For a number of years now the programme has been organised by the German National Tourism Board (DZT). The award is a bronze replica of what is thought to be the world’s oldest cartwheel, the original being from the sixth century B.C.
At this year’s international platform for Accessible Tourism the key topic was “Products catering for a specific market and beyond“. RUNA REISEN puts together concepts for and organises holiday trips tailored to the individual needs of customers with disabilities and people of all ages requiring nursing care. Karl B. Bock and his student friends came up with the idea during their university days: a social startup ahead of its time, so to speak. The transition from an idea founded on social principles to a functioning specialist business took time. “We became successful only after accumulating knowledge“, said Karl B. Bock as he spoke into the microphone of VDRJ chairman Rüdiger Edelmann. “A travel product such as this demands a great deal of trust.“ The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities shares his corporate philosophy, which is “it has to be normal to book a trip.“
RUNA REISEN is now the market’s leading organiser of holiday trips tailored to the individual needs of customers with disabilities and people of all ages requiring nursing care. Some 4,000 customers – with numbers rising annually– place their trust in the company’s offer of accommodation at selected destinations which they have personally tested. This is the result of long experience. Products include barrier-free, custom package tours to 170 destinations in 30 countries. In addition to holidays with a wheelchair, hotels that provide nursing care, group accommodation and accompanied trips, the catalogue also has tours for people with eyesight and hearing disabilities and allergy sufferers. The latest catalogue lists three new destinations: Iceland, the Bahamas and San Sebastian in northern Spain, as well as a hotel in Kempten/Allgäu which is fully equipped to cater for the blind and people with impaired hearing, as well as two all-inclusive hotels in Turkey.
The Bronze Wheel bestowed by the Columbus Honorary Award will take its place alongside the Golden Wheelchair, the award for Best Barrier-free Tour Operator which Karl B. Bock and his team received in 2010.
The message that comes with this year’s honorary award by the Association of German Travel Journalists is this: it is possible to make money with a socially-oriented product – and that should be food for thought.
Founded in 1956, the VDRJ supports the professional interests of its members, upholds the profession’s image and facilitates the practical work of its members. Its active members are journalists, authors, journalist-bloggers, directors, producers, cameramen, photographers, press spokespersons and PR agencies specialising in travel and tourism.
Press contact: Anne Heussner, Primo PR
Tel: +49 (0)173 213 80 16
Chairman & spokesman: Rüdiger Edelmann
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