Tourism Solomons CEO Josefa ‘Jo’ Tuamoto, the board of directors and tourism industry leaders, both in the Solomon Islands and the United States have paid tribute to Robert (Bob) Reynolds, the founder of Solomon Islands WWII specialist tour operator Valor Tours, who passed away on 07 January aged 99 years old.
Speaking from the national tourist board’s head offices, Mr Tuamoto said Mr Reynolds had instilled a great appreciation for WWII history, and particularly the Solomon Islands’ war history, that translated into the inception of Valor Tours, now the oldest battlefield tour operator in North America.
“Undoubtedly, his company has greatly contributed to the Solomon Islands economy through his efforts in organizing thousands of battlefield tours for US-based visitors and history buffs from around the world, Mr Tuamoto said.
“It is gratifying to know that in the future his legacy will be continued through his daughter, Vicky Reynolds-Middagh, who took over the helm as president when Bob retired in 2004.”
Born in Burma (now Myanmar) and raised in London, Mr Reynolds saw action as a WWII pilot with the Royal Air Force (RAF) flying night missions over Germany.
He later took part in the historic Berlin Airlift in 1948/49.
Mr Reynolds founded Valor Tours , 43 years ago as a resource for veterans, their families, military service organizations, unit associations, reunion groups, historical societies and government institutions with an in interest in the Pacific and Europe wartime theatres.
His other tourism-related activity included roles with the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) and the Hong Kong Tourist Association. He also consulted to the Philippines Department of Tourism.
In his capacity as President of Valor Tours, Mr Reynolds was also involved with the fundraising, placement and dedication of memorials and monuments all over the Pacific including the American Memorial at Guadalcanal.
Today Valor Tours continues to inspire travel to the Solomon Islands by World War II history buffs, veterans and their families – mostly American and Japanese – who make up a large proportion of the approximately 30,000 international travellers who visit the Solomon Islands annually.