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03rd Oct 2019

Travel mogul explains how 9/11 changed the industry forever


Brought to you by Open Money

Entrepreneur and politician Dinesh Dhamija has led a remarkable life. The son of a diplomat, he was born in Australia, and spent a nomadic childhood living in Mauritius India, Holland, Afghanistan, and Czechoslovakia, before settling in the UK in the mid 1960s.

He then went from selling tickets in a kiosk in London’s Earl’s Court Station, to running one of the world’s most successful online travel agents, Ebookers. He sold the company in 2005, for a figure reported to be around £247 million. He then joined the Liberal Democrats in 2014, serving as a business advisor, and was elected to the European Parliament as a Liberal Democrat in 2019. 

Dinesh Dhamija is also the first guest on Pioneers With John Amaechi, JOE’s new show which aims to get into the minds of Britain’s brightest entrepreneurs. Each week, former NBA star turned psychologist and consultant Amaechi will speak to the men and women who defined their industry, discovering the stories behind how they got to the top. 

On the premiere episode, former holiday mogul Dhamija speaks candidly about how the September 11th attacks in 2001 sent shockwaves through the travel industry and caused a body blow to his business. And in particular, how it caused panicked Ebookers investors to suddenly want their money back, as a sense of uncertainty spread through the world 

“We knew how it impacted us, because it happened immediately, explains Dhamija. “The phone started ringing, all wanting their money back.”

How much money did they actually lose? “I’ve forgotten, a few million pounds,” Dhamija replies.

“I read this at an interview in the New York Times said the company went from being worth $770 million to $60 million,” he continues. 

That’s quite a bit more than just a “few million pounds.”

Yet, whilst talking about this dealing with this seismic and stressful event, John Amaechi comments that Dhamija remains relaxed throughout. “I just couldn’t do anything about it,” Dhamija explains. Sometimes you just have to weather out the storm and get through what life throws at you.

Listen to the full episode now on YouTube and on Apple Podcasts.