A new travel agent has opened up in Waitara, north of New Plymouth, just a few months after the town’s former travel agent was jailed for fraud.
House of Travel New Plymouth have opened up a pop up location on Waitara’s main street and are testing to see if residents want them there permanently.
“It’s not a pop-up in the sense that we’re here for a week and then gone again, we’re just here part-time,” House of Travel New Plymouth retail manager Tracey Edgecombe said.
“We’re seeing if it’s a service that the community want. It’s a trial to see if we can build it up but it’s a staffing thing too,” Business manager Ian Wolfe said.
The team at House of Travel New Plymouth at Waitara, located at 62 McLean Street and open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9am to 1.30pm, want to rebuild trust after former travel agent Waitara Travel went into liquidation at the end of June 2016.
“It’s been a bit turbulent here for them in the last couple of years.
“It’s a case of building up the trust and we’ve got a good rapport with a lot of the customers out here already.”
Close to 100 Waitara residents had money stolen from Nadene Chapman, the former director of Waitara Travel.
It was revealed at Chapman’s sentencing in February that she had stolen more than $700,000 from customers.
Chapman’s business was struggling and she was taking money from the client trust account to pay her bills winding up in a situation where she was using one client’s money to pay for another’s travel.
At the time of Chapman’s sentencing House of Travel New Plymouth had been in discussions to purchase Waitara Travel and set it up as a branch but the deal fell through. However House of Travel New Plymouth did work with customers affected to fufill their holiday plans.
Wolfe said because House of Travel is New Zealand owned and operated it already comes with a level of trust.
“We’ve shown our commitment to the community by looking after their interests and have made some strong connections through that.
“We love to be involved in communities.”
At this stage it’s a trial for House of Travel New Plymouth to see if it’s a service Waitara residents require and then they can look to build up a full time office.
“We’re trying to make it convenient for them and bringing in a reputable brand.
“It’s a good community that’s very community minded.”
Wolfe said in the three weeks they’ve been open they’ve had a positive response from residents.
“We’ve had people in here doing their bookings and people going past just popping their heads in.
“We definitely think they need it here and we definitely know they want it.”